ommunities across North America have built memorials to honor peace officers who have died or become disabled in the line of duty. Each year during Police Week, departments hold open houses, conduct tours of their facilities, and hold community activities to celebrate police officers and their duties. May 15 has been designated National Peace Officers Memorial Day, and most local communities hold a memorial service in remembrance of police officers who have made the supreme sacrifice for their communities.
Public Law 87-726: On October 1, 1962, U.S. president John F. Kennedy signed into public law a joint resolution of the 87th Congress:
Pursuant to 36 U.S.C. 136-137, the President designates May 15 of each year as ‘Peace Officers Memorial Day’ and the week in which it falls as ‘Police Week.’
Public Law 103-322: In 1994, U.S. president William J. Clinton signed into public law a joint resolution of the 103rd Congress directing that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff on all government buildings on May 15.
Flying the national colors at half-staff on National Peace Officers Memorial Day honors police officers who died in service to the community and the country. Unfortunately, observations suggest that many local governments and business communities are unaware of the authorization to lower the national flag to half-staff on May 15 of each year; local police executives can overcome this lack of awareness with an educational effort.
Most local communities incorporate a resolution into their municipal code designating days that flags will be flown at half-staff. Once local governments have identified the appropriate days, businesses and others tend to follow suit. Police executives are encouraged to ensure that May 15 is observed in the local jurisdiction’s ordinances and to conduct a local campaign to inform local businesses of this observance.
The 21st Annual Candlelight Vigil will be held at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 13, 2009. Sponsored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), the event will begin at 8:00 p.m. at the memorial grounds, located at Judiciary Square. A reading of the names newly engraved on the memorial will immediately follow the ceremony.
The list at right outlines events falling in and around Police Week. Details about the events of Police Week 2009 are available at the NLEOMF Web site, www.nleomf.org.