WASHINGTON — — Three Baltimore County police officers were ending their shift in the early morning hours of Halloween last year when they were dispatched to a house fire in Pikesville. There, a man in the yard yelled that his paralyzed father was trapped on the top floor.
Officers Michael Forish, Michael Gerard Lynch and Zachary Small rushed into the house and found a 275-pound man in his bed, yelling for help. The three officers, gasping amid the smoke, carried him from the building as it began to collapse.
The incident received little attention at the time, but the three were honored Thursday at a White House ceremony along with 27 other law enforcement officers, investigators and agents from nine states who received a Top Cops Award from the National Association of Police Organizations.
"We're grateful for the sacrifices you and your families make," President Barack Obama said at the Rose Garden event. "It's one thing to talk about courage. It's another thing to respond swiftly, decisively, heroically, with little regard for yourself and complete regard for your fellow man."
Top Cops Awards are granted annually based on an independent review of hundreds of nominations and are intended to pay tribute to law enforcement officers "for actions above and beyond the call of duty during the preceding year," according to the association's website. The group did not respond to requests for comment.
Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz accompanied the officers and their families to the White House. Johnson called the officers "shining examples of the best in public safety."
"I am very proud of all the men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department who each and every day perform heroic acts and selfless service to the citizens of the county," Johnson said.
The rescue took place at 5:30 a.m. in the 100 block of Clarendon Ave. The officers, who have been on the job since the mid-2000s, suffered smoke inhalation, Johnson said.
The Baltimore County Police Department did not respond to requests to interview the officers.