WATCH: President Biden awards public safety officers Medals of Valor

President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Valor to 15 public safety officers Monday at the White House, including two officers who died in the line of duty.

Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.

The Medal of Valor is the highest award a president can bestow on a public safety officer.

In an East Room ceremony, Biden called the honorees “the heart and soul and very spine of this country,” saying they were “the ones who ran in to help when everyone else ran away.”

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Biden also paid tribute to Aaron Salter, the security officer who who lost his life when a gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, Saturday, killing ten people.

Salter “gave his life trying to save others,” Biden said.

The Medals of Valor were awarded to nine police officers and six firefighters for acts of bravery in eight different incidents from 2019 to 2021.

The Democratic president has been under pressure from Republicans and others to bring down violent crime across the country, one issue among many that could complicate his party’s chances of retaining control of Congress in the November midterm elections.

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Biden has announced a strategy to combat gun crimes, including steps to crack down on rogue gun dealers and slow the spread of untraceable ghost guns, privately made firearms without serial numbers.

FBI records released last September suggest that Biden inherited a violent crime problem. In 2020, the year before he took office, homicides rose nearly 30 percent over the previous year, the largest one-year jump documented by the FBI. There were 21,570 killings, the highest since the early 1990s when homicides stayed above 23,000 a year.