May 13th 2007, marks the 19th Anniversary of the Annual Candlelight Vigil. A vigil to honor the Law Enforcement professionals who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect those they served. Each year during the vigil, names of Fallen Officers are read and dedicated to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. In 2006 145 officers were killed in the Line of Duty. There are 237 names from years previous 1827-2005 scheduled to be dedicated at this years ceremony. More than 20,000 Law Enforcement Officers and family members gather for this ceremony each year. This vigil is a key part of National Police Week, which starts this year on May 8th with the 13th Annual Blue Mass. There are several other events that occur to honor the fallen as well as those police officers still serving everyday with unmatched dedication. These Events Include the 8th annual 50k relay race, the Police Unity Tour (http:// www.policeunitytour.com), the 12th annual ‘Law Ride’ a motorcycle procession from RFK to The National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial, the 5th annual Steve Young National Honor Guard Competition, and the National Police Survivors Conference. There are several Wreath Laying Ceremonies as well from organizations such as the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary. There will also be the 12th annual Emerald Society Pipe band March and Service. Of course there is the 26th annual National Peace Officer Memorial Day Service hosted by the Grand Lodge of the F.O.P.
National Police Week is possible only through the cooperative efforts of organizations like the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, Concerns of Police Survivors(C.O.P.S.), and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation (NLEOMF).
History of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, National Police Week and the National Law Enforcement Museum
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy declared May 15th National Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the Calendar week that has May 15th as National Police Week. This was in order to honor our nation’s Law Enforcement. The week is marked with several special events and activities that honor both the living and fallen Law Enforcement professionals.
The memorial on which the names of Fallen Officers is engraved was authorized to be built on Federal Land by President Ronald Reagan on October 19th 1984 with the signing of Public Law 98-535. Ground Breaking occurred on October 30, 1989 in Judiciary Square in Washington D.C.
On October 15, 1991 President George H.W. Bush dedicated the memorial, declaring October 15th National Law Enforcement Memorial Dedication Day by Presidential Proclamation 6357. A wreath-laying ceremony is held every October.
On September 13, 1994 President William Jefferson Clinton signed Public Law 103-322 requiring that Flags Be flown at Half-staff on May 15th of Each Year in honor of National Peace Officers Day.
On November 9, 2000 President Clinton signed Public Law 106-492 in order to allow the National Law Enforcement Museum to be built across from the Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial, on Federal Land.
Groundbreaking on the National Law Enforcement Museum is projected in 2008 it will be approximately 90,000 square feet and feature several interactive exhibits including “A day in the Life’
Interesting Facts about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and some of the names that grace it.
-There are 17,917 names of , Federal, State, and Local Enforcement Officers who made the Ultimate Sacrifice engraved on the Memorial
-The First Known Female Officer Killed in the Line of Duty was Prison Matron Anna Hart, of the Hamilton County, Ohio Sheriff’s Office was killed on July 24,1916
– The First Known Law Enforcement Officer Killed in the Line of Duty was Deputy Issac Smith of New York City Sheriff’s Office. He was Killed May 17, 1792
– There are 215 Females who made the ultimate sacrifice, now immortalized on the Memorial.
– At the current rate of annual additions the Memorial has enough room to engrave names until the year 2050.
– September 11, 2001 was the single deadliest day in United States Law Enforcement History. 72 Officers were killed that day. Their names can be found on 9W through 22W on line 23.
National Law Enforcement Museum
The National Law Enforcement Museum is scheduled to be built across from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. It will be approximately 90,000 square feet and feature interactive exhibits allowing visitors to walk in the shoes of a police officer and see things from a new perspective. It will be the largest Law Enforcement museum in the World. Groundbreaking is scheduled for sometime in 2008 with a projected opening in 2011. Once completed Visitors to the museum will be able to participate in hands-on activities and exhibits that will allow a unique perspective as the key role of Law Enforcement in today’s ever-evolving society.