The Senate on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a House-passed bill which would award Congressional Gold Medals to the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department for their actions in defense of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The House passed the bill in June in widely bipartisan fashion – 406-21 – to award the police officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot with the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.
"Jan 6 released many horrors but it also produced many heroes," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "A day that many of us remember for its violence, anger and destruction was not without its share of bravery, sacrifice, and selflessness."
The bill will award four medals – one will go to U.S. Capitol Police headquarters and one will go to Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, while one will be put on display in the Capitol, and the fourth will be put on display in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
"Those medals, when little kids walk by them at the Smithsonian, they're parents are going to be able to tell them this happened," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. "This attack happened and there were brave police officers and staff and others in this building that stood up that day and protected our democracy."
The bill now heads to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.
The news came one day after it was confirmed that two more police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 riot have died by suicide. The deaths bring the total number of officers who were at the Capitol that day and later took their own lives to four.
The Metropolitan Police Department released a statement Monday announcing that Officer Gunther Hashida was found dead at his home Thursday. Hours after announcing Hashida’s death, MPD also confirmed that Officer Kyle DeFreytag died by suicide on July 10.
The police department did not draw any link between the officers’ suicides and the Capitol riot, carried out by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump intent on disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.
More than 140 law enforcement officers were injured at the Capitol. Two others had previously taken their own lives: Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood on Jan. 9 and Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith on Jan. 15. Both officers’ families have blamed the riot for their deaths and are urging their respective departments to recognize them as having died in the line of duty.
Another officer, Brian Sicknick of the Capitol Police, died after suffering two strokes the day after he confronted rioters. A medical examiner’s report, however, did not directly link the melee with Sicknick’s death, saying he died of natural causes.
Last week, four law enforcement officers who served at the Capitol on Jan. 6 testified before the House select committee investigating the riot, with some describing the psychological trauma they’re still dealing with more than six months later.
During his testimony, Capitol Police Office Harry Dunn made a plea to his colleagues to seek help if they are struggling.
“There's absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling,” he said. “What we went through that day was traumatic. And if you are hurting, please take advantage of the counseling services that are available to us.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or text HOME to 741741 for support from the Crisis Text Line.
Spectrum News' Ryan Chatelain contributed to this report.