Editorial: National Police Week

National Police Week is an annual commemoration that honors the bravery and sacrifice of law enforcement officers and holds profound significance in our nation’s collective consciousness. Established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, this observance serves as a solemn reminder of the courageous men and women who pledged to safeguard our communities and paid the ultimate price in fulfilling that commitment.

The spoken names of fallen officers resonate throughout public squares, federal buildings, and squad rooms during this week-long remembrance. It is a time for reflection, respect, and solidarity, as law enforcement personnel, survivors, and citizens alike gather to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The statistics underscore the gravity of the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers. According to a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, last year witnessed the deliberate killing of 60 officers in the line of duty. Moreover, the data from 2021 to 2023 reveals a sobering reality, with 194 officers losing their lives, marking the deadliest consecutive three-year period in the past two decades. Tragically, the toll continues to mount in 2024, with 19 officers intentionally killed and 21 succumbing to job-related accidents as of the end of April.

Against this backdrop, National Police Week assumes heightened importance as a platform for honor, remembrance, and peer support. Since its inception, this annual observance has evolved into a series of events that bring together tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from across the globe, converging on Washington, DC, to partake in various ceremonies and activities.

The cornerstone of National Police Week is the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, organized by the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. Originating in 1982 as a modest gathering in Senate Park, this solemn service has grown exponentially, drawing survivors and law enforcement personnel to our nation’s capital each year. Complementing this service is the Candlelight Vigil, sponsored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and seminars facilitated by Concerns of Police Survivors.

The significance of National Police Week extends beyond mere ceremony; it fosters a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among attendees. With between 25,000 to 40,000 participants from various departments and agencies worldwide, this event provides a unique opportunity for law enforcement professionals to connect, share experiences, and find solace in each other’s company.

In this spirit of fellowship, the Fraternal Order of Police in Washington hosts receptions throughout Police Week, welcoming law enforcement personnel from all backgrounds. These gatherings offer a respite from the solemnity of the occasion and serve as a testament to the enduring bonds forged within the law enforcement community.

Here in town, in 1929, in 1944 and again in 1954, the Greenwich Police Department experienced the unimaginable loss of three of its officers in the line of duty. In honor of National Police Week, the department would like to remember and honor the legacy and service of those Greenwich officers as well as the family members they left behind.

Officer William J. Robbins died on May 14, 1929, after from injuries he received in a motorcycle accident three days earlier at the intersection of Boston Post Road and Maple Avenue.

Officer Joseph McCormack died February 10, 1944, succumbing to wounds received 17 years earlier when he was shot several times while guarding a group of notorious bandits. He lost the use of his limbs because of the shooting and eventually died from the wounds.

In January 1954, Detective James Butler and his partner were investigating a report of stolen turkeys when the suspect fired four shots, hitting both detectives. Detective Butler saw him preparing to shoot his partner again; he fired his own pistol and instantly killed the assailant. Detective Butler died three months later as a result of his injuries.

As we observe National Police Week in 2024, let us pause to honor the legacy of these two individuals and all others who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their communities. Their names may be spoken aloud in memoriam, but their courage, dedication, and selflessness endure as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come. In honoring their memory, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting and protecting those who continue to serve on the front lines of law enforcement.

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