The gala was held in the FOP's smashing new headquarters in the Far Northeast, and it was perfect in all ways but this:
It was a members-only event. I wish it could have been open to the public (an impossibility, given how packed the place already was with members and their families). Because the tales we heard of competence, bravery and plain old street smarts would have made even the most cynical civilian grateful that these men and women have our backs.
Here are just a few honorees, with apologies to those whose stories I haven't the space to include.
Where there's smoke
March 15: In the middle of the night, Sgt. David Potter and police officers Jason Judge and Brian Dougherty charged into a burning apartment building on 2nd Street near Cumberland before firefighters or rescue arrived, pounding on doors to wake sleeping residents. They saved seven adults and nine kids.
Sept. 2: Police officers Patrick Keck, Raymond Diaz, Marvin Marson and Rafael Ramos did the same on Clearfield Street near C, rescuing three people. Afterward, Diaz was treated for smoke inhalation.
Just get them talking
Nov. 5: Detectives Gerard Winward and James Poulos questioned two males suspected of gunpoint robberies of iPhones in the 35th District. One of the perps was charged with a single robbery; the other admitted to five others - and to the rape of a 16-year-old girl.
Summer 2013: A team of officers from the Major Crimes Unit worked with officers from the 2nd District to nab a duo suspected of stealing "Chrysler-type" vehicles from the parking lots of hospitals, including (for shame) Fox Chase Cancer Center. In custody, one of the men confessed to stealing 35 vehicles in the Northeast. As a result, $150,000 in stolen property was recovered. Hats off to Sgt. Dan Buckley, detectives John Logan and Steve Kershaw, and police officers James Campbell, Chris McCue, Anthony Glaviano and Kevin Doerr.
July 11: Long after curfew, plainclothes officers Brian Murray and Alexander Norat and Sgt. Michael Carr spotted a male bicyclist whom they thought was a juvenile and attempted to question him. The kid dropped his bike and took off through neighborhood alleys until grabbed by the officers. In his possession: a fully loaded .45-caliber handgun.
March 6: Sgt. Michael Carr brought a suspected shooting perp to the hospital for possible identification by a gunshot victim about to undergo surgery there. The victim denied the perp was the shooter, but Carr's gut told him to take detailed notes on the suspect anyway. After the surgery, the victim admitted that the suspect was, indeed, the man who had shot him but he'd been too frightened to say so. A warrant was issued and the shooter was arrested.
Nov. 1: Police officers Thomas Brown, Raymond Rutter and Joy Gallen-Ruiz stopped a van whose five occupants were reportedly about to retaliate for a prior shooting. Sharp instincts and faster reflexes allowed the officers to arrest the men without incident or injury - a miracle, considering the men carried a fully loaded sawed-off shotgun, two handguns and a big bag of ammo.
Like I said, I wish I could name every officer honored on Thursday for confronting a gun-wielding perp, or tackling a thug while off-duty, or clearing 30 robberies with one brave arrest, or freeing a neighborhood from a serial car vandalizer.
The Police Department's good officers do the dangerous, unpredictable work of keeping us safe, or tracking down those who've done us wrong. They put themselves in harm's way as a matter of routine and, modestly, don't expect a reward for it.
It was nice to see some of them rewarded anyway - with a plaque, words of praise, a nice meal and a round of applause.
On behalf of the city, please accept a salute of thanks.
On Twitter: @RonniePhilly