In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation (3537) which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week. National Police Week pays special recognition and tribute to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. In 2015, 123 peace officers across our nation paid the ultimate price.
President Kennedy said, “I invite State and local governments, patriotic, civic, and educational organizations, and the people of the United States generally, to observe Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week in this year and each succeeding year with appropriate ceremonies in which all our people may join in commemorating law enforcement officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities, and, in so doing, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens.”
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund, more than 900,000 law enforcement officers in the United States today, put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of others. They serve with valor and distinction but that protection comes at a price. Each year, there are approximately 60,000 assaults on law enforcement officers, resulting in nearly 16,000 injuries. Sadly, over the last decade, an average of 146 officers a year have been killed in the line of duty. One law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 61 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 20,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
While we pause to remember and recognize the selfless service and sacrifice of those brave 123 men and women who chose to do good in, and for their communities, we also celebrate the efforts of those 900,000 who courageously carry on. At a time when law enforcement nation-wide is being unnecessarily villainized, let us stop for a moment and thank them for protecting all of us.
President Calvin Coolidge long ago said, “A nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” We shall never forget those who’ve paid the ultimate price or those who protect and serve every single day.
On Monday, at the State Capitol, four more names were added to the Peace Officers' Memorial, four more peace officers who died in the line of duty protecting the People of California. And on Wednesday at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson, we will once again recognize those brave peace officers who gave their lives here in Stanislaus County. We'll also remember and reflect upon Mary Ann Donahou who, while not a peace officer, was a member of our family.
Let us constantly remind ourselves that what cops do, matters. What they see is unimaginable to the timid, what they do is unimaginable to the weak and what they have to endure day in and day out is unimaginable to those who take their hard work and selfless service for granted.
Thank you all, every member of our department and family for what you do. It matters.