Governor Greitens presents Missouri Public Safety medals

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JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Eric Greitens awarded 16 public safety responders and two civilians who helped enforcement officers in emergency situations on Saturday. 

He started his speech with an anecdote about a St. Louis firefighter who saved six people from a burning building in 1877. 

"These are stories of courage that are the common inheritance of all of us. They are the common inheritances of every Missourian. Today the men and women who we honor have contributed their stories of courage, and service and sacrifice to this inheritance," Greitens said.

The Missouri Medal of Valor,the highest award, recognized public safety officers who demonstrated courage, decisiveness and presence of mind to save or protect human life. The State has awarded it to responders for 10 years, but Gov. Greitens added four new awards in addition to the Medal of Valor for this ceremony. 

"Governor Greitens wholeheartedly supported the expanding of the honors that the State bestows on public safety officers to include not only a medal of valor, but also the Public Safety Medal of Merit, the Director's Leadership Medal, and the Hall of Fame Award," Drew Juden, Director of the Department of Public Safety, said.

The Public Safety Civilian Partnership Award, the fourth addition, recognized civilians who Juden said stepped up and supported officers who were in need. 

Sgt. Brian Hollensteiner, Cpl. Derek Chism, both from the Audrain County Sherrif's Office, and Austin Kings from the Missouri State Highway Patrol received the Public Safety Medal of Merit. 

The officers responded to a call from two women who sensed trouble at an apartment complex. They entered an apartment and were confronted by a man with a shotgun. 

According to a DPS news release, the officers "ordered him to drop the gun, but the gunman fired. Hollensteiner and Kings returned fire striking the gunman. The officers provided first aid until EMS arrived." 

The gunman was a convicted murderer who was released from prison, recovered and will stand trial. 

"I'm actually honored. I mean, I'm really thrilled. So that's what it is. There are a lot of people here who are a lot braver than I am, and a lot braver than I ever will be," Hollensteiner said. 

Honored responders and civilians, as well as their families, went to the governor's mansion for lunch after the ceremony.