Sunday, May 13th marks the beginning of “Police Week 2012”. It is a time to reflect and to honor those who have sacrificed so much to protect the communities they serve. Many of us have lost someone close to us in this profession. Yet we move on in their honor and in our commitment to our profession and the citizens we serve. It is who we are and what we do.
This week, as you remember fallen law enforcement officers, take comfort in recalling that they dedicated their lives to the same principles of honor, duty and courage that brought you to the badge. Such a life is truly rich. Take strength in knowing that when an officer falls, our resolve to serve those in need is not diminished. Our dedication to protecting those in danger is not weakened. Our commitment to remembering those with whom we shared the badge does not fade. May those who have answered the final call all rest in peace and God bless and protect their loved ones and those they left behind.
To date 36 officers have given their all this year. In 2011 the total of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty was 166. Their names, plus several others who were recently identified from past years, will be added this year to the National Peace Officers Memorial Wall (click here). We do not know what the final tally will be for 2012; but what we do know is it will not be 36. To quote Chris Cosgriff, ODMP Founder, "When a police officer is killed, it's not an agency that loses an officer, it's an entire nation."
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Currently, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, DC to participate in a number of planned events which honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The Memorial Service began in 1982 as a gathering in Senate Park of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement. Decades later, the event, more commonly known as National Police Week, has grown to a series of events which attracts thousands of survivors and law enforcement officers to our Nation's Capital each year.
The National Peace Officers' Memorial Service, which is sponsored by the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, is one in a series of events which includes the Candlelight Vigil, which is sponsored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and seminars sponsored by Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.)
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is the nation’s monument to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Dedicated on October 15, 1991, the Memorial honors federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation and its people.
The Memorial features two curving, 304-foot-long blue-gray marble walls. Carved on these walls are the names of more than 19,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout U.S. history, dating back to the first known death in 1791. Unlike many other memorials in Washington, DC, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is ever-changing: new names of fallen officers are added to the monument each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week.
Anyone who thinks our job is easy should walk an hour, day, week, month, year, or a career in our shoes. There are many in society who vilify and hate us. The media more often than not paints a picture of our profession far different from reality. Politicians seek our endorsement and tell us they respect us, but many of them turn their backs when it comes to our employee rights, decent pension, and a livable wage. Nevertheless we put on our badge and answer the call of duty daily to serve and to protect, and we willingly place our lives on the line for all.