Today is the first day of National Police Week. Ever since 1962, when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week, our nation’s law enforcement community has come together throughout the month of May to remember the officers we have lost in the line of duty across the country. This year, after two years of postponed, virtual and limited-capacity ceremonies, many events honoring the fallen have returned in person at full capacity, allowing law enforcement members, survivors and supporters the opportunity to publicly recognize our fallen in a way befitting their service and sacrifice.
At the beginning of the month, on May 1 and 2, peace officers across the state gathered in Sacramento for the largest California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony to date. A total of 28 peace officers — 10 from 2021 and 18 from the past several years — were recognized and added to the memorial monument, joining the more than 1,600 officers who have lost their lives since California became a state. (For a list of this year’s honored officers, please visit camemorial.org.)
Additionally, history was made at this year’s ceremony with the unveiling of a long-overdue new statue honoring our sisters in blue. The statue was commissioned by the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) after the 2019 deaths of two young female officers, Davis Officer Natalie Corona and Sacramento Officer Tara O’Sullivan. “Women are doing the same job as men in law enforcement,” CPOMF President Kevin Mickelson said in an interview with PORAC Law Enforcement News. “When an officer is killed in the line of duty, I doubt very seriously the suspect cares one way or the other whether they are a man or woman. Women officers face the same dangerous situations as men, and it’s time their service and sacrifice are recognized.” The 7-foot-tall statue features a kneeling female honor guard officer presenting a folded flag, and is located in the circular planter in front of the original memorial monument. (To learn more about the statue, read “Memorializing Our Fallen Sisters” at PORAC.org.)
National Police Week ceremonies will be held in Washington, D.C., from May 11 to 17. This year, commemorations will revolve around the 619 fallen officers from across the country — 472 who were killed in the line of duty in 2021 and 147 who died in previous years — who were recently added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Kicking off the week is the National Police K-9 Memorial Service on May 11, an event that honors police dogs who have died in the line of duty. Other notable events throughout the week include the Police Unity Tour Ride-In Ceremony on May 12, which welcomes the law enforcement members and survivors who took part in the massive memorial bicycle ride that pays tribute to the fallen; the annual Candlelight Vigil on May 13, where the names of this year’s honored officers will be read aloud by high-ranking government officials and law enforcement members from across the country; and the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on May 15, hosted by the National Fraternal Order of Police. (Select events will be livestreamed; please visit NLEOMF.org for more information.)
“May is a solemn yet significant time for law enforcement,” LAAPOA President Marshall McClain says. “It is not only an opportunity for us as a profession to come together to recognize the bravery, service and sacrifice of our fallen colleagues, but also a time for us to show the families they left behind that their law enforcement family will always be there for them and will always honor the memory of their loved one — they will never be forgotten.”
In addition to memorializing officers across the nation who lost their lives protecting others, LAAPOA takes this month to remember those we lost too soon within our own ranks, including Captain Albert E. Torres (EOW: October 12, 2019), the first Los Angeles Park Ranger killed in the line of duty, and Officer Tommy Scott (EOW: April 29, 2005), the first Los Angeles Airport Police officer killed in the line of duty.
LAAPOA is proud to announce that the Officer Tommy Scott Memorial Highway Bill (SCR-39 Officer Tommy Scott Memorial Highway), introduced by California State Senator Ben Allen last year, was enrolled on May 3. The long-awaited Officer Tommy Scott Memorial Highway sign will be erected on a specified portion of Interstate Highway Route 405 to honor our fallen hero.
“Seventeen years ago, on April 29, 2005, the city of Los Angeles and the LAX, Los Angeles Airport Police and LAAPOA family lost an officer, a friend, a brother, a son,” McClain says. “The Officer Tommy Scott Memorial Highway sign will serve to preserve the memory of Officer Scott, his service and his ultimate sacrifice. LAAPOA thanks Senator Allen and his staff for pushing this bill through the legislative process.”