Every year since 1961, May 15th has been reserved for Peace Officers Memorial Day across our nation.
Established as a key part of National Police Week, the date honors federal, state and local law enforcement personnel who have paid the ultimate price for their service by dying in the line of duty. The annual national observance was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
Each year Americans across the nation — especially law enforcement personnel who have lost family members, friends or colleagues working in the field — honor the fallen over the third week in May through memorial services, candlelight vigils, activities and seminars. Flags of municipalities, businesses and other organizations are lowered to half-staff.
In Washington, D.C., National Police Week events sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police draw 25,000 to 40,000 attendees.
Through the years, the roles of police officers in the U.S. have expanded considerably. These days, many are called upon to act as first responders during emergencies or natural disasters when other personnel resources are slim. In response, many have undergone additional training and stepped up to shoulder extra responsibility when it comes to catastrophic events.
“During a disaster, police officers not only have to continue to keep the community safe from possible looting, destruction of property and theft that may occur, they also have to be prepared to evacuate citizens, render advanced life-saving techniques and keep points of dispensing sites secure,” notes a recent report on MDCHHS.com.
Last year 128 officers died while on duty, including 44 who were shot and killed and 47 who were victims of traffic accidents. The death toll represented a 10 percent drop from the year prior, which analysts attribute in part to more sophisticated gear and training, better community relationships and restrictions on vehicle pursuits.
Another factor may be better communications technology that can instantly alert both civilians and law enforcement officials to dangerous situations. For example, an emergency notification system called Swift911™ allows public safety and law enforcement officials to manage all emergency communications and deliver critical alerts with unmatched speed and reliability.
During National Police Week and beyond, SwiftReach honors the dedication and hard work of law enforcement personnel everywhere and pays tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price.