1811 Magazine — Summer 2011
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National Police Week

On October 1, 1962, the 87th Congress signed a joint resolution requesting the President of the United States to designate May 15 of each year as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which it falls as Police Week. On May 4th 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed and affixed the Seal of the United States of America on Proclamation 3537 which states in part:

“Whereas it is important that our people know and understand the problems, duties, and responsibilities of their police departments and the necessity for cooperating with them in maintaining law and order; and Whereas it is fitting and proper that we express our gratitude for the dedicated service and courageous deeds of law enforcement officers and for the contributions they have made to the security and well-being of all our people; Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate May 15, 1963, and May 15 of each succeeding year, as Peace Officers Memorial Day, in honor of those peace officers who, through their courageous deeds, have lost their lives or have become disabled in the performance of duty. I also designate the week of May 12 through May 18, 1963, and the calendar week during which May 15 occurs of each succeeding year, as Police Week, in recognition of the service given by the men and women who, night and day, protect us through enforcement of our laws.” -- President John F. Kennedy

Twenty years later, in 1982, the first Peace Officers Memorial Service was held in Washington, DC’s Senate Park. Approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement attended the event. This year, National Police Week brought thousands of law enforcement officers and their families and friends to Washington, DC to honor the service and memory of those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. These officers and their survivors deserve our thanks and the promise that their sacrifice will always be remembered.

On May 13, 2011, the names of 316 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty were formally dedicated to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) during the memorial’s Annual Candlelight Vigil. 152 of those officers made the sacrifice in 2010; nine of them were federal agents.

According to the NLEOMF, the number of line of duty deaths in 2010 increased by 22% over the 2009 deaths. Unfortunately, the number of officers killed in the line of duty in 2011 is on the increase. According to the Officer Down Memorial page, as of this writing 70 officers have already made the sacrifice this year; that is an 11% increase over last year.

U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder, keynote speaker for the Candlelight Vigil stated, “As we read the names of these fallen heroes – and reflect on their legacies – we are reminded that our safety and security often comes at a terrible price. And while no words, no ceremony, and no salute can relieve this burden – we can, and we must, ensure that their sacrifices were not made in vain.” U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Led the lighting of candles and reading of the fallen officers’ names during the 23rd Annual Candlelight Vigil. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Linda Moon- Gregory, national president of the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), also participated in the annual tribute to officers who have died in the line of duty. “The safety of our communities and the freedoms we enjoy as a nation have always come at a price,” said Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the NLEOMF.