On Friday, May 13, 2011 in the nation’s capital thousands of law enforcement officers and their families from across the nation gathered with lit candles in hand to honor their fellow officers. Men and women killed in the line of duty as they protected and served their communities. The Peace Officer’s Memorial Service is held every year on the 13th day in May.
The vigil on Friday leads up to the official start of National Police Week that begins on Sunday, May 15, 2011. Nearly a century ago, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy after a joint resolution of Congress promulgated the date of May 15th as the date on which fallen officers would be honored. Simultaneously he proclaimed the week in which May 15th falls as National Police Week. Since that declaration the remembrance is held in Washington, DC, this year’s event is the 30th such event.
Among an extensive and varied list of scheduled events during the 2011 conference is the laying of a wreath at the memorial and the National Police Survivors Conference. In addition to those that die in the line of duty, we must remember that hundreds are injured; some with life changing disabilities. The impact of their deaths and injuries not only affect the officers but their families and their extended police community.
This year more than 316 names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. Since 1791 records on police fatalities have been documented and more than 19,000 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Statistics on the Law Enforcement Memorial Officers Fund website state that every 53 seconds a police officer is killed in the line of duty. 2010 was a very deadly year for laws enforcement officers. The state with the most fatalities was Florida where ten officers were killed, followed by New York, Texas and Ohio with six officers each killed in those states.
Statistics that compare fatalities between May 2010 and May 2011 show an increase in the number of officer fatalities, gunfire used and other causes with a decrease in officer traffic incidents. Many contribute this increase to current economic times.
I respect and appreciate those who risk their lives to protect my life and property. I believe that they are underpaid, under appreciated and often insufficiently equipped for the job that they do. The economic crisis we are experiencing has affected the budgets of police departments across the country. In some districts the budget cuts result in the inability to purchase new firearms and protective gear for their officers. I would also imagine that it has also affected their upkeep of some police vehicles and equipment to the maintenance schedules that should be kept.
Often officers across the country use firearms less powerful than the criminals they pursue. Imagine your brother, husband or daughter shooting at bad guys with a six shooter while bank robbers and gang thugs fire back at them with AK 47’s and other repeat weapons.
Imagine your husband or daughter driving a police vehicle that has bald tires as they chase a perpetrators that has abducted an innocent child, imagine them breaking down the door of a fugitive without protective shields because there were not enough of them to go around. The priority of America and the value we place on the people in our lives perplexes this writer. Police officers, teachers, nurses and fireman should be among the highest paid professions in the workplace. They risk their lives each day to protect us and increasingly more and more they often give their lives as well.
To the families, wives, husbands, sons, daughters and mothers of the men and women who wear their blue to protect us I applaud you, I appreciate you and I respect you. I appreciate your sacrifice and I pray that we change our value system, cherishing life more than things so that you fewer of you will give your lives in the line of duty. The mantra of the National Law Enforcement Fund on their website is “Respect, Honor and Remember” I ask my fellow Americans to “Respect and Appreciate” those that sacrifice life and limb to protect and serve us. In honor of all the men and women who have died and to those who have been injured in the service of their communities, tprotecting he laws of our country and the protection of our property, let us honor them with a minute of silence.
The National Law Enforcement Memorial was dedicated on October 15, 1991 and is located near Judiciary Square in Washington, DC. It is situated on three acres of federal park land adorned with 60,000 plants, 126 trees and a rainbow of more than 10,000 daffodils that bloom annually each April just in time for the annual weekly commemoration.
Numerous organizations support and sponsor this event but the principal sponsors are the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), Fraternal Order of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary (FOP?FOPA) and the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).
For the list of the names of those killed in 2010 and whose names will be added to the memorial this year please click on the following link: