Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week are observances in the United States that pay tribute to local, state, and federal peace officers. The Memorial Day takes place on May 15, and Police Week is the calendar week in which the Memorial falls. This year, 2010, the observance will be May 9-15.
The holiday was created on 1 October, 1961, when Congress asked the President to designate 15 May to honor peace officers. John F. Kennedy signed the bill into law on October 1, 1962. According to a proclamation by George W. Bush in 2002, the following was established:
"Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week pay tribute to the local, State, and Federal law enforcement officers who serve and protect us with courage and dedication. These observances also remind us of the ongoing need to be vigilant against all forms of crime, especially to acts of extreme violence and terrorism."
Much of the holiday centers on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall in Washington, D.C., whose walls feature the names of the more than 17,000 law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
According to Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), about 140-160 officers are killed in the line of duty each year and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss.
On May 15, 2010, many businesses and community members across the nation, especially those who lost family members, friends or colleagues who were local officers, will lower their flags in remembrance of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Some police departments hold an annual law enforcement memorial ceremony on this day.
Each year, C.O.P.S. organizes a national memorial service on the day, drawing thousands of people from many parts of the United States. The service is followed by the placement of a memorial wreath at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington DC. On this day, people are also reminded of the need to be especially aware and watchful of all forms of crime in their daily lives.
"As a Nation, we rely on law enforcement officers to keep our neighborhoods safe, enforce our laws, and respond in times of crisis. These men and women sustain peace and order across America, and we look to them as models of courage and integrity. This week, we honor their extraordinary service and sacrifice, and we remember the fallen heroes whose selfless acts have left behind safer streets and stronger communities.
"Every day, peace officers face the threat of violence and danger. They routinely put their lives on the line to defend ours, and the price of that bravery may result in injury, disability, or death. The steadfast dedication of our country's law enforcement officers warrants more than praise. That is why my Administration has provided billions of dollars in grants to support State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. These funds are giving peace officers the tools and resources they need to help ensure our safety." - President Barack Obama
Groundbreaking National Law Enforcement Museum
This year is also very special for the national memorial. It marks the groundbreaking for a world-class experiential museum with high-tech interactive exhibitions that will include a vast collection of law enforcement artifacts and dedicated spaces for research and education. With strong backing from America’s law enforcement, corporate and philanthropic communities, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced October 14, 2010, as the date it will break ground on the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, DC.
The Museum will be built on Federal land across the street from the existing National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in historic Judiciary Square, the symbolic seat of the nation’s criminal justice system. A gala celebration is planned for that evening at the National Building Museum. The National Law Enforcement Museum is scheduled to open in late 2013.
Just a couple of unique visitor experiences in the museum will range from assuming the role of a police dispatcher in the Motorola 911 Emergency Call Center; to making split-second, life-or-death decisions posed by the use-of-force judgment simulator; to solving crimes in the Museum’s Target Forensics Lab.
Great Resources for Site Exploration
The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund is a very informative site for those interesting in exploring more about respect, honor, and dedication to law enforcement. Here, also, is plentiful information about the new museum. http://www.nleomf.org/
Here is a group known as Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.). Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc. provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty as determined by Federal criteria. Furthermore, C.O.P.S. provides training to law enforcement agencies on survivor victimization issues and educates the public of the need to support the law enforcement profession and its survivors.The web site is http://www.nationalcops.org/
The Officer Down Memorial Page http://www.odmp.org/ offers many valuable resources and a search for those officers lost in action. It is a sobering reminder that, too often, we take the tremendous sacrifices of our law enforcement personnel for granted. Their job is never done and their selfless acts demand our utmost respect.
We should all take time this week and offer prayers and concerns for those law enforcement public servants who protect us all. God bless their tireless efforts, ladies and gentlemen, and pray they continue to be safe. Their job is often thankless and always stressful. Thank you very much for a job well done.
Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities
as of May 10
2010 Fatalities - Top States
U.S. Territories: 3