SACRAMENTO — Three California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers received the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor during a ceremony hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice earlier today in Washington, D.C. The award presented to CHP Officers Ryan Smith, Vince Mendoza and retired CHP Officer Robert Paul is considered the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer.
“Our entire way of life – our freedoms, our peace, our pursuit of happiness – depends on the rule of law and those fearless, faithful few willing to stand watch,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “I applaud the bravery and selflessness of these California Highway Patrol officers as they are recognized nationally for their heroism. They exemplify California values and represent the very best of our state’s law enforcement.”
On Aug. 12, 2019, Officer Paul was assisting CHP Officer Andre Moye, Jr. with an enforcement stop and vehicle impound near Interstate 215 in Riverside when the suspect suddenly retrieved a rifle from his car and opened fire without warning. Officer Moye was struck and killed, and Officer Paul immediately drew his weapon and engaged the suspect before radioing “Officer down.” Additional Riverside Area CHP units immediately responded along with units from the Riverside Police Department and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Officer Paul was shot multiple times in his legs and, despite the life-threatening injuries, held off the suspect until backup arrived.
Officer Smith arrived after several minutes, and his patrol vehicle immediately took rounds from the suspect. Officer Smith exited his vehicle and returned fire and pulled Officer Paul to safety as he was wounded in both legs. Officer Mendoza then arrived and shot at the suspect with a rifle, drawing fire away from Officers Smith and Paul. With the assistance of allied agencies, the gun battle continued for more than 12 minutes until the suspect was fatally shot.
“The actions of these men that day were noble, courageous, and crucial to getting another officer to safety,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “I am incredibly proud of these officers for their teamwork and the numerous acts of bravery which took place during this horrific incident.
While we tragically lost one of our own that day, countless other lives were saved because of their heroism.”
Sworn to serve and protect the people of California, CHP officers vow to “assist those in peril or distress, and, if necessary, lay down their [my] life rather than swerve from the path of duty.”
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.