Peace Officers Memorial Day is observed annually on May 15th. National Police Week is the calendar week in which the memorial falls. The Peace Officers Memorial Day was enacted in 1962 to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to voice appreciation for those who currently serve on the front lines of the battle against crime.
In Washington (DC), the observance began over the weekend and continues all week. Among events there will be the groundbreaking of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the 31st annual Candlelight Vigil on the National Mall Wednesday evening. A memorial service is planned for noon Wednesday.
Among observances in our area, a memorial service will be held at Catawba Memorial Park, 3060 Highway 70 SE in Hickory Wednesday at 1 PM. A wreath laying ceremony, playing of bagpipes and Taps, and an honor guard firing a 21-gun salute will be included in the program. Catawba County Sheriff Don Brown will be the keynote speaker.
On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice. In 2018, 163 officers were killed in the line of duty in the US. In addition, there were 28 K9 line of duty deaths.
Lincoln County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution marking this week as Police Week at their meeting earlier this month. Commissioner Bud Cesena, himself a former police officer, made the motion. He spoke about the observance in an email to the Lincoln Herald:
12 May 2019
On August 26, 1973 Sgt. John Hugh Howell of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office responded to a domestic call for service near the intersection of Flay Road and Shoal Road. Once in the residence he was shot by the suspect who was wielding a rifle. Sgt. Howell got to his patrol car and called for assistance. He died shortly after making the call.
When describing many officer involved shootings, the media most often uses the phrase “ routine call or routine traffic stop.” Let me assure you that there are no “routine” calls. My first encounter with gunfire was the result of a “routine” call to assist an intoxicated person. As I walked up the stairs, the intoxicated person shot at my partner and me through the door. We were both very fortunate that we were not struck by the round.
In my 30 years at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department nine officers were killed in the line of duty. The pain is the same from the first to the last. While I was the Chief of the CMS Police Department, my long time friend and fellow SWAT Operator Fred Thornton died in a Flash Bang accident after a call out. His death still haunts me to this day.
In 2018, 317 law enforcement officers made the ultimate sacrifice for the communities in which they served. National Police Week is a time set aside by Congress to celebrate those lives. May 12th through May 18th is National Police Week for 2019. To see a full listing of events surrounding that week please go to http://www.policeweek.org/.
We are very fortunate here in Lincoln County to be served by a group of dedicated Law Enforcement professionals from the Sheriff 's Office, Lincolnton Police Department, NC State Highway Patrol, and Adult Probation & Parole. These fine men and women put their lives on the line each and every day so that we can be safe and secure in our daily lives.
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