Police Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan has been at the forefront of every one of Philadelphia's recent big events.

From the protests that followed police shootings of black men to the horrific Amtrak crash, from the papal visit to the DNC, he's been tasked with a clear and daunting job: protecting us all.

At a City Hall ceremony Tuesday, Sullivan was recognized for doing that difficult and delicate job well. The 33-year veteran of the force was awarded the Richardson Dilworth Award for Distinguished Public Service, the most prestigious honor given each year to a city worker.

"It's beyond humbling," Sullivan, head of the department's Homeland Security Bureau, told me over scrambled eggs at the Reading Terminal's Down Home Diner before the ceremony.

He's earned it. On a normal day, Sullivan is responsible for the department's SWAT force, Bomb Disposal Unit, Highway Patrol, and Joint Terrorism Task Force. When major events roll through town, it's on him to work with the feds to prevent disaster.

He's had a couple of busy years.

There was that surreal night in May 2015 - nothing, he said, could have prepared him for what he would see - when arriving at the scene of the Amtrak crash felt like stepping onto a movie set. The walking wounded, the crushed, twisted train cars.

But Sullivan had readied his officers for a night like that one, when a nightmare becomes reality, having long advocated for providing his officers with tourniquets and increased emergency training. It made a difference that night. Police treated and transported scores of victims.

There were those many months of papal visit planning, when many complained about the potential inconveniences of restricted travel while Sullivan and his officers worried about tractor-trailers filled with explosives.

"My job is to think like a terrorist," he said.

There was that time during a planning trip in Rome when Sullivan, 54 - a Northeast Philly kid who caught and never lost the policing bug from his father, Joseph Francis Sullivan, a civilian employee in the department's personnel unit - got to tour the pontiff's private garden.

And there were the protests. In the national unrest over police shootings of black men, some cities descended into riot. Philly police kept the peace, while ensuring that protesters' voices were heard.

Sullivan led from the front. During a May 2015 protest, a flying bucket bloodied his face as police and protesters briefly tussled at the ramp of I-676.

"He's a cop's cop," said Sgt. Steve Carroll, who nominated Sullivan for the Dilworth award. "He's out there with you, leading by example."

Despite the peace and the praise, it's clear anger and divide remain.

"The fact that we have a protest and none of our people get harmed, that our message doesn't get drowned out by arrests, I find that to be positive," said Asa Khalif, the head of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement. "But until police officers who shoot black and brown people are arrested and sent to jail, you're not going to hear any praise from me whatsoever."

If a measure of a person is not just the work he or she does do, but the grace shown doing it, Sullivan measured well Tuesday.

In the crowd to support him was John Marynowitz, a retired Philadelphia police officer bound to a wheelchair after he was shot in the head during a West Oak Lane traffic stop in 1993. Sullivan made sure Marynowitz, a devout Catholic, had a seat near the altar when Pope Francis said Mass at the basilica. Afterward, the pope blessed Marynowitz.

Also in the crowd was Judy Cassidy, wife of Police Officer Chuck Cassidy, who was slain in 2007. Sullivan, who was Cassidy's division commander, has always been there for her family, she said.

The chief gave a speech, thanking just about everyone he knew.

Then he excused himself.

President Obama was in town. The chief had a president to protect.