In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which it falls as National Police Week. This symbolic act would set into motion a tradition, bringing together tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the globe to honor those who pay the ultimate sacrifice.
The week kicked off on Sunday, May 12, with the annual Police Unity Tour, a 250-mile bicycle ride that raises awareness and support for fallen law enforcement officers and their families. That same evening, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) hosted the annual Top Cops Dinner in recognition of the heroes in law enforcement from agencies across the country. Top Cops are nominated by fellow officers for their actions above and beyond the call of duty during the preceding year, and each year, 10 cops are chosen for the award. These are just a few of the many events during the week paying tribute to those who have put their lives on the line in the name of the country.
At the 31st annual Candlelight Vigil on Monday, May 13, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund honored 371 U.S. law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty — 158 officers who were killed during 2018 and 213 officers from prior years who had not yet been honored. This year’s total continues to reflect the prolonged impacts that the search and recovery efforts of 9/11 had on responders. Eighty-seven of the officers who had their names engraved into the memorial have passed from illnesses related to Ground Zero.
“President Mick McHale with NAPO does a great job at Police Week, and it is always good to have a chance to see so many other cops gathering in one spot to catch up with long-standing friends. Participating in the Police Unity Bike Tour, seeing how far it has come and how much money we are raising in remembrance of fallen cops and their families will be a highlight for me and our large crew that makes it down from New Jersey every year that we can. We appreciate everyone who supports police and look forward to coming together again next year,” said Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association.
“Thanks to everyone who takes the time to tip their hats to cops during Police Week. We don’t take what we do for granted, and we will always honor memories and the sacrifice of our fallen,” said Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association.