This week we celebrate and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to help keep our communities safe. National Police Week pays tribute to those in law enforcement who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. This commemorative week was established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, when he proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and its respective calendar week National Police Week.
Since then, celebrations across the country take place to honor, remember, and celebrate American law enforcement. An annual tribute in honor of officers killed in the line of duty is held at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. This year, 307 officers will be memorialized and have their names added to the wall of the memorial. Two of these names called Arizona home — Officer Gene Wade Lee of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Officer Paul Rutherford of the Phoenix Police Department. Their names will join the more than 21,000 other U.S law enforcement officers from federal, state, and local agencies dating back to the first line of duty death in 1786.
Currently there are more than 80,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States, the most in recorded history. On average law enforcement officers die in the line of duty every 54 hours. In 2019, 135 officers died in the line of duty and so far this year 42 officers have also died. While officer fatalities have been on a steady decline over the last several decades it’s important to remember the vital role law enforcement serves in our communities and the sacrifices many officers and their families continue to make.
Show your support for the brave men and women of law enforcement and join a virtual candlelight vigil and reading of the 2020 Roll Call of Heroes on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 8:00 pm Eastern time. For more information visit, nleomf.org/programs-events/national-police-week/candlelight-vigil