MIAMI — Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24) recently presented the Congressional Badge of Bravery to Miami-Dade Police Officer Mario Gutierrez, whose “selfless and heroic” actions may have saved thousands of lives during an incident.

“As police departments around the country battle perception and image problems, and heightened tensions within our communities, there are still many incidents that remind us of the goodness of the thousands of police officers dedicated to service. Miami-Dade Police Officer Mario Gutierrez is one such officer,” she said.

Congress established the award to honor exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty by federal, state and local law enforcement officers. The medals are awarded annually by the U.S. Attorney General’s office and are presented by the recipients’ congressional representatives. Gutierrez resides in District 24.

Wilson added that, “Officer Gutierrez is a shining example of the thousands of truly dedicated and committed police officers patrolling our streets and neighborhoods. With recent events and the controversy surrounding police officers … we have to respect our men and women in law enforcement — we would not have an orderly society without their dedication and commitment.”

On October 29, 2013, while on routine patrol in the Airport District, Gutierrez observed an individual attempting to light on fire the underground fuel tank at a gas station across the street from the Miami International Airport. Gutierrez activated the emergency shutoff valve to the pumps rendering them inoperable, and confronted the individual attempting to start the fire. The subject stabbed Gutierrez with a knife multiple times in the arms, hand, chest, stomach, and leg, and bit his right thumb.

Despite his injuries, Gutierrez continued to fight and was able to discharge his firearm, striking and killing the assailant, and preventing a massive explosion that could have caused further loss of life, injury, and property damage.

Wilson, founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence male mentoring program, said she teaches the boys “how to deal with officers in a respectful appropriate manner. Many police officers are a part of the program and provide mentorship for the boys. Our ultimate point is that … if you find it hard to respect the person you should always respect the badge.”