San Bernardino police Lt. Travis Walker took the stage at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday and told the audience he would not be mentioning the names of the husband and wife who attacked the Inland Regional Center in December.
Then he read aloud the names of each of the 14 people killed in the attack.
"Those are the names that really matter," Walker told law enforcement leaders and honorees from across Southern California at the Anti-Defamation League's ceremony to award recipients for fighting hate.
Walker collected an award on behalf of the police officers, firefighters and other first-responders at the scene of the Dec. 2 attack. He said those who entered the center within minutes of the shooting were armed with only handguns and one shotgun. Their bulletproof vests might not have stopped rounds from the military-style rifles used by the shooters, Walker said. One of the first people into the building didn't even have a vest as he was a Police Department administrator.
"They were willing to take bullets to protect the civilians," Walker said.
The shooters had already fled but left behind unexploded pipe bombs. He said the work of his colleagues that day was truly remarkable, but it was those who lost their lives who need to be honored.
San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan said the recognition for law enforcement was especially important at a time when police frequently come in for public criticism over use of force and other issues.
Representatives from the San Bernardino Police Department, FBI, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. attorney's office and police departments from Colton, Fontana, Redlands and Rialto were on hand Tuesday.
The responders to the terror attack were one of three groups receiving awards. A second group included human-trafficking investigators from the state attorney general's office, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Long Beach Police Department and city prosecutors office.
A third group included members of the Los Angeles Police Department for its Community Safety Partnership Program, a collaboration with the Los Angeles Housing Authority that focuses on building community trust by working on programs such as Girl Scout troops and a football team for housing projects in Watts instead of making arrests.
"We put on a badge to make a difference in someone's life," said LAPD Sgt. Emada Tingirides, who accepted the award with her husband, Cmdr. Phil Tingirides, who oversees the program with her.
The ADL of the Pacific Southwest Region also honored Carrie Braun, public affairs manager for the Orange County Sheriff's Department for her work in creating the Diversity Advisory Council, which works to foster closer ties between Orange County law enforcement and the area's black, Muslim and LGBT communities.
Braun quoted a character of her favorite TV Show "Downton Abbey," the chauffeur turned estate manager Tom Branson: "I don't believe in types; I believe in people."