Each year our nation loses between 140-160 law enforcement officers in the line of duty. National Police Week (NPW) held May 11 – 17 each year in Washington, D.C. honors the service and sacrifice of U.S. law enforcement officers. On May 11 and 12, surviving families and co-workers begin arriving in Washington, D.C. for the week-long events.
The first major event is the Candlelight Vigil hosted by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) on May 13. The service begins at 8:00 p.m. with the newly engraved names being read.
Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) hosts the National Police Survivors’ Conference on May 14 and May 16 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, the host hotel. The conference includes breakfast, lunch, guest speakers, debriefing sessions and a Kids/Teens program for the surviving children and siblings of the fallen officer. On May 16 the conference closes with a Picnic on the Patio night where dinner is provided with games, music and more. This allows survivors to relax and be with each other after a stressful week.
The Fraternal Order of Police and Auxiliary hosts the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on the west front lawn of the U.S. Capitol on May 15. The surviving family members will have an opportunity to place a flower in a wreath honoring their fallen officer. The service begins at 11:00 a.m. and will last about 2 hours.
History of National Police Week
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726 designating May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, and the week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. The law was amended by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Public Law 103-322, signed by President Bill Clinton, directing that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff on all government buildings on May 15 each year. While the actual dates change from year to year, National Police Week is always the calendar week, beginning on Sunday, which includes May 15.