Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Wake-Up Call … Heeded

By Craig W. Floyd
Chairman and CEO, NLEOMF

When it comes to officer safety, 2007 was a wake-up call for law enforcement in America. One hundred and eighty-one officers died in the line of duty that year, making it one of the deadliest years for peace officers in two decades.

New data for 2008 suggest that law enforcement executives, officers, associations and trainers heeded the call this year—and the country’s peace officers were safer as a result.

Preliminary figures compiled by the NLEOMF show that the number of officers killed in the line of duty this year has declined by 23 percent when compared with 2007. In fact, 2008 will end up being one of the lowest years for officer fatalities in the last four decades.

Fatal shootings plummet 40 percent

Dissecting the 2008 numbers reveals a number of positive developments. For example, after surging in 2007, both fatal shootings and traffic-related fatalities have fallen sharply this year.

Firearms-related deaths plummeted approximately 40 percent. The 41 officers killed by gunfire this year (preliminary total, as of December 30) is the lowest annual total in more than half a century: in 1956, there were 35 firearms-related deaths. Traffic-related fatalities are down 14 percent this year, after reaching an all-time high of 83 in 2007. Officers killed specifically in automobile crashes—the largest category of “traffic-related” deaths—have fallen by 25 percent.

It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons why officer fatalities rise and fall, and the numbers are certainly affected by a number of forces. One of them is the crime rate itself.

After increasing earlier in the decade, the crime rate in the United States has begun to fall again, according to both the federal government and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), which tracks crime trends. What the 2008 data suggest is that law enforcement’s success in reducing crime may have contributed to improvements in officer safety as well.

A similar effect may be at work in the area of highway safety. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has reported that total traffic deaths are down approximately 10 percent this year—the result not only of Americans driving fewer miles, but also of concerted efforts by law enforcement to make our roadways safer. Once again, the effectiveness of our men and women in blue may be having a positive impact on officer safety.

Greater awareness spurs positive action

As important as some of these larger trends may be, in looking at the dramatic reduction in officer fatalities this year, one cannot discount the impact of increased awareness of the problem in 2008 and the positive actions that resulted.

Awareness. Determined to heighten awareness of officer safety among the general public, policymakers and, especially, the law enforcement profession, the NLEOMF worked to publicize the 2007 surge in officer fatalities. National and local news media covered the story extensively, and officer safety was the focus at a number of training conferences and seminars, including the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), the Big 50 law enforcement union gathering at Harvard and other venues.

Training. With ILEETA and others leading the way, officer safety training took on new urgency in 2008. Trainers placed added emphasis on high-risk entries, responding to domestic violence calls (a particularly deadly situation in 2007), traffic stops and, especially, vehicle pursuits and defensive driving.

Safety steps. Beyond awareness and training, a number of agencies took specific steps to enhance officer safety this year. For example, departments in south Florida and elsewhere began arming their officers with higher-powered weapons to combat the more dangerous guns showing up on the street. In addition, manufacturers such as DuPont continued to work at enhancing safety vest technology, and agencies emphasized the wearing of vests even more. NLEOMF data show that the percentage of officers wearing their vests has increased from just under 50 percent a decade ago to nearly 75 percent today.

In a dangerous profession, areas of concern remain

While trends in officer fatalities were generally positive this year, we all know that law enforcement remains a dangerous profession. Each year over the past decade, an average of 167 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, and 58,600 officers were assaulted, resulting in some 16,400 injuries. And for the 140 families and the dozens and dozens of law enforcement agencies and communities that lost officers in 2008, the reality is that our law enforcement officers still confront tremendous dangers and still make enormous sacrifices each and every day of the year.

My biggest fear is that some people may use the generally good news on officer safety in 2008 as an excuse to cut law enforcement budgets at the local, state and national levels. Especially as our country confronts difficult financial times, now is definitely not the time to scale back the emphasis on training and equipment that have been so critical to making our officers safer and more effective. In fact, even with the generally good news on officer safety, some areas of concern need further attention:

Female officer fatalities. According to our preliminary data, 15 female officers were killed in 2008, equaling the all-time high of 2002. In terms of percentages, 2008 is the first year in which more than 10 percent of the officers killed were women. As more women have entered and advanced in the law enforcement profession over the years, and as women have taken on the higher-risk assignments traditionally held by their male colleagues, it should be no surprise that more female officers would be killed in the line of duty. Still, the high percentage of female fatalities this year deserves further study.

Offenders on probation or parole. In recent years, as many as one-third or more of the criminals who feloniously killed law enforcement officers were on probation or parole at the time of the offense. While the 2008 figure is still being calculated, the danger posed by these offenders remains acute. In Philadelphia, for example, two of the four officers killed this year—Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski and Officer Patrick McDonald—were fatally shot by offenders under community supervision.

Officers struck and killed. While the overall number of traffic-related fatalities is down this year, the number of officers struck and killed while outside their own vehicles increased. The 17 officers struck and killed in 2008 was the highest total since 2001—this, despite the fact that more states have passed and begun to aggressively enforce so-called “move over” laws. So we most certainly need to work even harder on improving officer safety on our roadways.

As we enter 2009, the NLEOMF will continue to monitor officer safety trends and report our findings. We will pay particular attention to those areas of concern that continue to place our law enforcement officers in the greatest danger. We hope that by calling attention to the latest trends and issues in officer safety, law enforcement can respond even more effectively through enhanced training, policies and equipment—just as the profession did so well in 2008.

Monday, December 22, 2008

All in a Day’s Work: Memorial Fund Staffer Rescues Young Visitor

Thursday, December 18, was shaping up to be a fairly typical late Fall day at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Families and friends of fallen officers had come to honor loved ones and make rubbings of their names on the Memorial walls. Business people rushing to meetings were finding a brief respite in a stroll through the Memorial grounds. And children were there with parents and nannies, enjoying the lion statuary and maybe having some lunch.

As on most days, these and other activities were taking place under the watchful eye of Debbie Catena. Debbie is the Memorial Fund staff member who, for the past two years, has provided on-site visitor support at the Memorial.

Shortly after noon, Debbie noticed that the normally tranquil rhythm of the Memorial had been disrupted. A woman was hurriedly leading a young boy in her charge away from the Memorial grounds and toward the Metro subway. Debbie could see that the boy was in some type of distress, and she headed toward the pair. In Debbie’s experience, most young children who are “having issues” at the Memorial are just in need of a friendly voice and a treat. So Debbie readied one of her signature lollipops for the young lad.

But upon reaching the boy, Debbie could see right away that the situation was far more serious. The 4-year-old was having great difficulty breathing, and his complexion was beginning to turn blue. Complicating the situation was the fact that the boy’s nanny spoke little English, so she could not easily articulate what was going on.

A former registered nurse and an amazing “people person,” Debbie sprang into action. She quickly determined that the boy had been eating a hot dog purchased at a nearby vendor. A piece of the hot dog had obviously become wedged in his airway. Without hesitation, Debbie grabbed the boy and applied the Heimlich maneuver. Debbie used her training and experience as a nurse to customize the technique on the child, ensuring he was not harmed in the process.

After the piece of hot dog was expelled and the boy was breathing normally again, Debbie sat down with him and his nanny and helped them calm down. Typical of her humble nature, Debbie barely said anything about the incident to her supervisors at the Memorial Fund. But once staff found out, they gave Debbie a rousing cheer at the organization’s holiday party on Friday.

Great work, Debbie! You are a wonderful representative of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and a truly caring—and quick thinking—friend to all of our visitors.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bombings Remain a Danger for Law Enforcement Officers

Although bombings may not be one of the leading causes of line-of-duty deaths among America’s law enforcement officers, this weekend’s killing of two officers in Oregon from a bomb blast remind us of the types of dangers facing law enforcement today.

Captain Tom Tennant of the Woodburn Police Department and Senior Trooper Bill Hakim, a bomb technician with the Oregon State Police, were killed on Friday evening, December 12, as they were investigating a suspicious device outside a branch bank in Woodburn, OR. Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell was also hurt in the blast and remains in critical condition at a local hospital. A suspect in the bombing was reportedly arrested in the Salem area on Sunday night.

According to research records from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, more than 75 law enforcement officers have been killed in bombings throughout our nation’s history. Some, like Captain Tennant and Trooper Hakim, died because it is their job to disarm bombs before they harm innocent citizens. Others were targeted for death by bomb-wielding terrorists. More than a few were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time—a common problem for police officers.

The first known bombing incident to take the life of a police officer occurred on May 4, 1886. Seven Chicago police officers were killed when a bomb exploded on a city street. The bomb-throwing incident was part of a tragic civil disorder, centered around a labor dispute, which has become known as the “Haymarket Riot.” Killed in the blast were Patrolmen Mathias J. Degan, John Barrett, George Miller, Timothy Flavin, Thomas Redden, Nels Hansen and Michael Sheehand. Some 70 others in the crowd were injured in the bombing.

More than a century later, bombs continue to be a popular and destructive criminal tool. In February 1992, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James H. Fulford, Jr., was killed by a bomb during a “routine” traffic stop. After pulling a car over for speeding, Trooper Fulford conducted a search of the vehicle. When he picked up a package in the trunk, it exploded. Omaha (NE) Police Officer Larry D. Minard suffered a similar fate in August 1970. He was moving a suitcase he found lying on the floor of a vacant house when the bomb inside exploded.

But, even under the most favorable conditions, explosives can still be extremely dangerous, especially those that are illegally manufactured. Johnny Masengale, a special agent with the then-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), was killed in May 1992 while preparing to destroy a highly volatile mixture of explosive materials that had been seized the day before. At the time of the explosion, Special Agent Masengale was working with a team of ATF and military explosives experts at Fort Lewis, Washington. As they were preparing for a controlled ignition, the materials detonated prematurely.

Explosives can have deadly consequences even during training exercises. In February 2002, Scottsdale (AZ) Police Sergeant Thomas Hontz was killed while conducting a training exercise in two vacant homes in Scottsdale, Arizona. A device called a "gas ax,” which is used to puncture walls and pump tear gas into a room, exploded. Fourteen other firefighters and police officers were injured in this incident.

In recent years, several officers participating in the war on terrorism have been killed in bomb blasts. For example, several special agents with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and U.S. Diplomatic Security Service have died in roadside and other bombings while serving in Iraq.

Trooper Hakim is not the first Oregon State Police member to be killed in a bombing. On October 2, 1997, Sergeant Richard Schuening was working with state and federal law enforcement in locating and removing dynamite and other explosives that were illegally stored on a property in Granite, OR. The 18-year veteran was killed when some of the materials exploded.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Go Blue This Holiday Season

Twenty years ago, a Philadelphia woman put blue lights in her windows during the holiday season in honor of her son-in-law, a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. This year, law enforcement families and supporters across the United States will once again be decorating in blue to remember those officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice as well as those who continue to serve and protect.

“Blue lights in windows, homes and on Christmas trees during the holiday season are a visible reminder of the service and sacrifice that law enforcement officers make on behalf of all Americans 365 days a year," said Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The tradition traces its roots to 1988, when Mrs. Dolly Craig wrote a letter to Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), a non-profit organization that provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Mrs. Craig said she would be putting blue lights in her windows that holiday season in honor of her son-in-law, Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Gleason, who had been shot and killed in June 1986 while investigating a vandalism report. Mrs. Craig thought others might like to share her idea.

Over the years, Project Blue Light has grown into a nationwide initiative to honor law enforcement. In addition to individual supporters, many law enforcement agencies participate in the effort by staging their own Blue Light ceremonies. In the nation’s capital, for example, the Metropolitan Police Department and the DC Chapter of C.O.P.S. decorated a blue spruce tree outside police headquarters using blue lights and ornaments created by the children of fallen officers.

This year, the Memorial Fund is selling blue, LED-battery operated votive candles in its Visitors Center & Store, 400 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC, as well as through its online gift shop. So as you're decorating for the holidays, proudly shine a blue light for the men and women of law enforcement.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

DC Race to Remember Raises $10,000 for Museum

Last month, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Oct. 19, the first Race to Remember: Memorial 5K took place in Washington, DC. Starting and ending at Judiciary Square in front of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, race participants brought out strong support for American law enforcement - 500 runners raised $10,000 for the Memorial Fund, with all of it going to help realize the dream of building the country's first National Law Enforcement Museum.

Monday, Dec. 1, NLEOMF representatives Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO, and Megan McMullen, race organizer and Law Enforcement Relations Manager, visited DC MPD to accept the check and recognize MPD and the FOP for their invaluable work in organizing the event. Chief Cathy Lanier, Assistant Chief Pat Burke, and MPD Officer and President of the DC FOP Marcello Muzzatti, presented the $10,000 donation and vowed to host the Race to Remember every year to raise funds and help build the National Law Enforcement Museum. Officer Muzzatti was also presented with an award from Chief Lanier recognizing his community service in organizing the event.

The money raised will go toward the $80 million "A Matter of Honor" campaign to build the National Law Enforcement Museum. The Museum will be located adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC.

The NLEOMF thanks all of those who participated in the Race to
Remember, especially our generous sponsors: Fraternal Order of
Police, Metropolitan Police Labor Committee; Fraternal Order of
Police, Jerrard F. Young Lodge #1; Police Federal Credit Union; and District of Columbia Protective Services.

We couldn’t have done it without your support, our wonderful runners, and race organizers. Thank you!

Interested in hosting a race in your town? Contact Law Enforcement Relations Manager Megan McMullen at megan@nleomf.org or at 202-737-8538.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Come visit us - Tree Unveiling!

The NLEOMF is spreading some good cheer this holiday season in a couple programs to boost the spirit of giving in the DC area and around the country.

Tree Unveiling - 4 PM, Tuesday, Dec. 2

On Tuesday, Dec. 2, we're working with DC's Metropolitan Police Department to kick off MPD's Holiday Toy Drive with a Tree Unveiling at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Visitors Center on 400 7th Street NW, Washington DC.

We'll have food, music, and fun for all our law enforcement supporters.

It's a great chance to meet us, for us to meet you, for you to meet each other, and to get in gear for the holidays, as we'll start collecting toys at the Visitors Center for DC's kids in need.

With the economy as it is, requests for assistance and gifts for children are coming in at high volume at MPD, and the NLEOMF wants to help. And, we want to celebrate the season with you!

What: "Tree Unveiling" Holiday Party for MPD's Toy Drive
When: 4 - 6 pm, Dec. 2, 2008
Where: NLEOM Visitors Center - 400 7th Street NW DC
Why: To kick-off the Toy Drive and finally meet you in person!
Free food! Bring friends!

"In Honor of" Holiday Remembrance

The holidays can be a difficult time for friends, families and supporters of law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF wants to give people all over the country a chance to remember their loved ones this holiday season at the NLEOM Visitors Center. Call the Visitors Center during the month of December and tell us the officer you want to honor, and we'll post a special paper ornament with your name and his/her name in our Visitors Center for display. The officer you'd like to honor can be a fallen hero or a living legend. We request a minimum donation of $1, to go to the Memorial and Museum. We hope to cover the entire NLEOM Visitors Center in paper ornaments this year - a tribute to America's finest.
Visitors Center #: 866-569-4928 or 202-737-3212

For more information, visit http://www.nleomf.org/ (updates will be up soon!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Surviving a Suicide Bomber … Israel Police Officer Visits the Memorial to Tell Her Story

Video by NLEOMF, Nov. 18, 2008

The summer of 2002 was a time of heightened alert in Israel. Dozens of suicide bombings have been carried out throughout the country, and Jerusalem was on high alert following reports that a suicide bomber was on his way to the city.

Sgt. Major Ronit Tubol is an intelligence officer with the Israel Police; her husband is a captain on the same department. Sgt. Major Tubol’s unit that was trying to find the bomber suspected of heading to Jerusalem. Based on the intelligence reports, they believed the bomber was coming from the north, but he entered Jerusalem from the south. There, he boarded a bus headed toward downtown.

Video by NLEOMF, Nov. 18, 2008

Also on the bus that June morning was Sgt. Major Tubol, who had just dropped off her 9-month-old child at day care and was headed to police headquarters in plain clothes. Sgt. Major Tubol was standing directly behind the suicide bomber, when he detonated a pack laden with 20 pounds of explosives and ball bearings. The blast blew a hole in the vehicle’s roof and propelled Ronit Tubol onto the street some distance away. She was unconscious and severely injured … but alive. Nineteen other passengers on the bus perished that day.

As police responded to the blast, they discovered Sgt. Major Tubol’s police credentials in the wreckage, and authorities began a frantic search of the victims looking for the officer. In the meantime, Ronit’s husband had responded to the scene to help with the investigation, still unaware that his wife had been on the bus. As fellow officers were about to notify him and escort him to local morgue to try an identify her body, a call came in from Hadassah Hospital that Sgt. Major Tubol may be there. Her husband responded right away, asked to see her jewelry and confirmed it was her.

Sgt. Major Tubol lay in a coma for more than two weeks. When she woke, she found that she had lost the ability to walk, talk and write. But she also knew that she desperately wanted to return to work and continue her life as a mother and wife. After four months in hospitals and a year of rehabilitation—re-learning the basic life skills most of us take for granted—Ronit Tubol achieved her goals. She is back at work in the intelligence unit of the Israel Police, and she and her husband are now the proud parents of two children.

Photos by NLEOMF, Nov. 18, 2008

Sgt. Major Tubol is in DC this week to be honored by the Anti-Defamation League and to share her incredible story of survival and strength, determination and hope, with her U.S. law enforcement colleagues. On Monday evening, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, she received the ADL’s Ina Kay Award, which recognizes individuals for extraordinary acts of courage in confronting intolerance and injustice, extremism and terrorism.

On Tuesday morning, she visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to relate her story of courage to Memorial Fund staff, Board members and other supporters who had gathered under sunny but cold skies. She was joined by David Friedman, Regional Director of the ADL’s DC Office, and Elise Jarvis, ADL’s Associate Director for Law Enforcement Outreach. Herb Giobbi, the NLEOMF’s Chief Operating Officer, led the ceremony.

Sgt. Major Tubol described her ordeal in detail. Much of the information she has gleaned from others, as her memory of the incident is blurred. But Ronit Tubol is clear on the larger meaning behind her story: “In Israel, we never give up … we never give in to terrorists.”

Following Ronit’s remarks, she joined Mr. Friedman and University of Maryland Department of Public Safety Major Jay Gruber in laying a wreath in honor of fallen officers at the Memorial’s center medallion. Major Gruber serves as president of the Shomrim Society of Washington, DC, an organization of Jewish law enforcement officers.

Lynn Lyons-Wynne, NLEOMF Senior Director of Memorial Programs, gave the group a tour of the Memorial. She pointed out that among the 18,274 officers whose names are on the Memorial, at least 26 are Jewish, according to NLEOMF research records and information from the National Conference of Shomrim Societies. Only one of those is a woman - Miami-Dade (FL) Police Officer Cheryl Seiden was shot and killed in July 1982 during an attempted robbery when the officer was off-duty.

Following the ceremony, Sgt. Major Tubol and her hosts headed off to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for another session with law enforcement personnel – another lesson in courage, determination and resolve. It is a lesson all of American law enforcement can take to heart, as officers here continue their dual mission of fighting both crime and terrorism.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

At the IACP – November 11

It may not have been the largest session of the week, but what this afternoon’s workshop on the National Law Enforcement Museum may have lacked in raw number of attendees, it more than made up for in terms of the quality of attendee interest and discussion. Led by Laurie Baty, the NLEOMF’s Senior Director of Museum Programs, the workshop provided an update on the National Law Enforcement Museum and explored how law local enforcement agencies are an essential ingredient in preserving the history of law enforcement in America.

Ms. Baty explained the history behind the Museum project, emphasizing its connection with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. She described some of the 7,000 objects in the Museum’s growing collection and, more importantly, brought the objects to life by relating the stories behind many of them. For example, she explained how the artifacts of Macon County, AL, Sheriff Lucius Amerson, who in 1966 became the first black sheriff elected in the South following Reconstruction, will enable the Museum to more fully tell the story of the integration of the law enforcement profession and its role in the Civil Rights era. Sheriff Amersons’ son Anthony had heard about the Museum and wanted to get involved by donating his father’s items to an institution he could trust to maintain and preserve his father incredible collection of badges, weapons, uniform parts, photographs and other historical artifacts.

Much of the workshop involved discussion with the attendees—from Nevada, Massachusetts, California, Illinois, Florida, Kentucky and elsewhere—on what historical objects exist in their agencies and how those items can best be preserved so that the history of local law enforcement in the U.S. can be captured and shared. Several participants described historical items they want to ensure are preserved, either at the National Museum or in their communities.

At the NLEOMF’s exhibit booth, visitor traffic began to subside after a brisk first few days. Still, hundreds of lapel pins, remembrance bracelets, calendars and other information and goodies were given away on Tuesday. By 3:30 pm, as the lights were dimmed at the Convention Center, NLEOMF staff were packing up the exhibit booth and looking forward to next year's IACP Conference in Denver.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At the IACP – November 10

The day started with the presentation of the 16th Annual Award for Quality in Law Enforcement. Several NLEOMF members were in attendance. Named for the IACP’s first president, the Webber Seavey Awards are presented each year by the IACP and Motorola in recognition of quality performance by police agencies around the globe. This year’s winners include programs from the Bundi District Police in Rajasthan, India, the Cincinnati Police Department and European Union Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq, along with dozens of finalists and semi-finalists.

In helping to present the awards, Director Carl Peed of the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services praised Motorola for supporting not only the Webber Seavey awards, but also the NLEOMF, the National Law Enforcement Museum and other projects. One the Museum project's largest donor, Motorola is funding the 9-1-1 Emergency Call Center in the Museum.

Back at the exhibit booth, a new and popular item this year came courtesy of corporate partner 3M. The company provided us with neck lanyards made out of the same reflective Scotchlite material that meets new federal regulations for visibility gear that are going into effect later this year. Co-branded with the NLEOMF Drive Safely campaign, the lanyards inform agencies about a website where they can get information about the regulations and links to officer safety information.

The day ended with “Host Chief’s Night,” a chance for the local police chief – in this case, William Landsdowne of the San Diego Police Department – to show his appreciation for everyone attending the conference. The event was held at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, and attendees got to eat, drink and check out their baseball skills at a number of interactive “work stations” set up around the park.

Preview for November 11: Laurie Baty, Senior Director for Museum Programs, leads a workshop on how to collect, catalog and store information and artifacts that may help the National Law Enforcement Museum or local communities preserve their history.

Monday, November 10, 2008

At the IACP – November 9

Activity at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in San Diego hit full stride today. A full day of workshops covered a wide array of law enforcement topics. IACP Committee and Section meetings got under way, and the NLEOMF presented at several of them.

Probably the biggest activity for the day was the opening of the Exhibit Hall, at 10 am. The San Diego Convention Center is massive, with more than 750 exhibitors, featuring every law enforcement product and service you could ever think of.

Several of the exhibitors are NLEOMF Corporate Partners, and our Chairman and CEO, Craig Floyd, joined members of the Development team in visiting these supporters and providing them with shields to display at their exhibits booths recognizing them as NLEOMF supporters. Some of our largest corporate partners – DuPont, Motorola and Advanced Interactive Systems – have the Memorial Fund and the National Law Enforcement Museum prominently displayed in their regular exhibit.

At the NLEOMF exhibit (Booth #4523), a steady stream of friends, supporters and newcomers to the organization came by the booth. They picked up information about the Memorial Fund and Museum, plus a variety of give-aways—lapel pins, patches, 2009 calendars, remembrance bracelets and more.

At 2 pm, Craig Floyd joined the leadership of “The Force,” a law enforcement uniform supplier and another NLEOMF Corporate Partner, for a special award. For the last four years, “The Force” has presented the Positive Force Award to a law enforcement officer who goes above and beyond the call of duty and displays exceptional courage, dedication or excellence. Nominations for the award come from a variety of sources, including the NLEOMF “Officer of the Month” awardees, who are automatically entered.

This year’s Positive Force Award winner is Officer Brian Bobick of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC. Last December, Officer Bobick selflessly pushed his bike patrol partner out of the way as a speeding stolen vehicle, driven by a 15 year old who was intentionally trying to run the officers, came barreling toward them. Officer Bobick was the March 2008 Officer of the Month of the NLEOMF.

In the evening, the California Chiefs of Police Association hosted a reception in support of the Museum project at the Harbor House in Seaport Village. Several hundred friends and supporters heard impassioned—and sometimes humorous—remarks by Craig Floyd, Marine Gunnery Sgt. (and actor) R. Lee Ermey, and Pulitzer-Prize winning author Jospeph Waumbuagh. Wambaugh, a former Los Angeles Police officer and a member of the National Honorary Campaign Committee of the National Law Enforcement Museum, gave out signed copies of his newest novel Hollywood Station, which is set in the LAPD. Organized by Cynthia Brown, of American Police Beat magazine, the event was sponsored by several corporate friends, including LexisNexis, Glock, 5.11 Tactical, American Police Beat, and AIS.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Truly … A Race to Remember

District of Columbia Councilmember Mary Cheh was there, speaking eloquently and passionately about the importance of honoring fallen law enforcement officers and remembering the families they leave behind. Her brother-in-law, Rahway (NJ) Police Officer John Jimmy Burns, was killed in the line of duty in January 1971, his name engraved on Panel 62-West of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

DC Metropolitan Police Sergeant Nicholas Breul and members of his family were there, too. As his department’s historian, Sergeant Breul works to preserve and share the proud history of the lead law enforcement agency in the nation’s capital.

And approximately five dozen members of Session 235 of the FBI National Academy came out as well – law enforcement leaders from across the country who took a break from their studies at the FBI training facility in Quantico, VA, to support a cause they deeply believe in.

For more photos, new video and commentary, check out Elvert Barnes's blog, Freedom.

These were among the approximately 550 people who got up early on Sunday morning, October 19, to participate in the inaugural Race to Remember: the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial 5K, in Washington, DC. Organized by the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC, the race raised thousands of dollars for the NLEOMF and its project to build the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum.

During the pre-race ceremony, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd and Councilmember Cheh thanked the runners and wished them well on their 5K run, which began and ended at the Memorial and took runners past the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, National Mall and other landmarks. Chief Lanier noted that three of her assistant chiefs – Pat Burke, Al Durham and Pete Newsham – were among the many MPD members and their families who participated.

After the race, Craig Floyd handed out awards to the top runners in 10-year age categories and to the top three male and female runners overall. Andrew Duncan, of Las Vegas, NV, ran the course in 15 minutes-57 seconds, beating out Antonio Eppolito, of Albuquerque, NM, by just two seconds. Demonstrating that age is no barrier to physical fitness, the top three male runners were all in the 40-49 age group.

The top female runner was Dionis Gauvin, of Alexandria, VA, who had an outstanding time of 18 minutes-30 seconds. Craig noted a special connection to two of the top runners. His executive assistant at the NLEOMF, Mary Brown, was the top female runner in the age 60 and over age category, and his wife, Veronica Floyd, placed second among women in the 50-59 age category. (Click here for complete race results.)

But for the vast majority of runners on Sunday, it was not about race times and awards. It was about fun, exercise, fellowship and, above all, supporting a great cause. The NLEOMF is in the middle of an $80 million capital campaign to build the National Law Enforcement Museum. The Museum will be located adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square. The money raised in the inaugural Race to Remember will help meet that goal. And Chief Lanier, Assistant Chief Burke and Officer Marcello Muzzatti, who coordinated the race, plan to make it an annual event.

The NLEOMF thanks all of those who participated in the Race to Remember, especially our generous sponsors: Fraternal Order of Police, Metropolitan Police Labor Committee; Fraternal Order of Police, Jerrard F. Young Lodge #1; Police Federal Credit Union; and District of Columbia Protective Services. We couldn’t have done it without your and the help of all of our supporters.

Wreathlaying Video Now Online!

NEW VIDEO! Use the VIDEO BAR on the right side of the page to watch footage of the Wreathlaying Ceremony, or go to YouTube profile: TheNLEOMF.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

AG Mukasey, Law Enforcement Officers and Survivors Mark the 17th Anniversary of Memorial

Wreathlaying Day ceremony commemorates the 1991 dedication of national monument to fallen officers. Use VIDEO BAR on the right to watch video from the event.

Washington, DC — With U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey leading the tributes, loved ones and colleagues of law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice gathered in the nation's capital Wednesday to mark the 17th anniversary of the dedication of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Attorney General Mukasey joined Jennifer Thacker, national president of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), in laying a wreath, and surviving family members and law enforcement officials placed roses at the center medallion of the Memorial in honor of America's fallen officers.

Created as the nation's monument to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was dedicated on October 15, 1991. President George H.W. Bush led the dedication ceremony.

"It took two centuries of service and sacrifice before our nation came together and built a memorial to honor the law enforcement profession and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), the DC-based nonprofit that operates the Memorial. "It is certainly appropriate, on this anniversary of the Memorial's dedication, to come to these hallowed grounds and pay tribute to those who have fallen and salute the 900,000 dedicated men and women who continue to serve and protect our communities and our nation," he said.

The Memorial includes the names of all known U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, dating back to the first recorded officer death, in May 1792, of New York City Deputy Sheriff Isaac Smith. At the Memorial's dedication in 1991, 12,668 names were engraved on its walls. Today, there are 18,274.

One of those names is Brandon Thacker, an investigator with the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. On April 16, 1998, Investigator Thacker was shot and killed as he traveled in a caravan of agents heading to an undercover assignment. His widow, Jennifer Thacker, has emerged as a leader in the law enforcement survivor movement, having been elected C.O.P.S. national president earlier this year.

"The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is critical to ensuring that Americans never forget or disregard the sacrifices made by our law enforcement officers and their families every year," said Ms. Thacker. "This memorial is especially significant to law enforcement's surviving families, assuring that their officer's ultimate sacrifice will be forever remembered and forever honored," she added.

The 2008 Wreathlaying Ceremony comes at a time when officer fatalities are on the decline nationally — a dramatic reversal from 2007, when officer deaths rose 20 percent. Preliminary data from the NLEOMF show that during the first nine months of the year, 106 local, state and federal officers lost their lives in the performance of duty, a 25 percent reduction when compared with the same period of 2007.

The annual Wreathlaying Day pays special tribute to law enforcement officers from the DC area and federal agencies who made the ultimate sacrifice during the past 12 months. This year's ceremony honored 17 officers from Maryland, Virginia and several federal agencies:
• Maryland State Police: Trooper First Class Mickey Lippy, September 28, 2008
• Maryland Transportation Authority: Corporal Courtney Brooks, January 1, 2008
• Prince George's County (MD) Police Department: Sergeant Richard Findley, June 27, 2008
• Smithsburg (MD) Police Department: Officer Christopher Nicholson, December 19, 2007
• Chesapeake (VA) Police Department: Detective Jarrod Shivers, January 17, 2008
• Fredericksburg (VA) Police Department: Officer Todd Bahr, June 5, 2008
• Stafford County (VA) Sheriff's Office: Deputy Sheriff Jason Mooney, October 19, 2007
• Virginia Beach (VA) Police Department: Detective Michael Phillips, August 7, 2008
• U.S. Border Patrol: Senior Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar, January 19, 2008
• Bureau of Indian Affairs: Criminal Investigator Denise Phoenix, February 14, 2008
• U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Border Patrol Agent Jarod Dittman, March 30, 2008
• Drug Enforcement Administration: Supervisory Special Agent Thomas Byrne, August 30, 2008
• Federal Bureau of Prisons: Correctional Officer Jose Rivera, June 20, 2008
• Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations, U.S. Department of Agriculture: Officer Kristine Fairbanks, September 20, 2008
• Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Air Force: Special Agent Thomas Crowell, Special Agent Nathan Schuldheiss, and Special Agent David Wieger, November 1, 2007
The names of all officers who have died in the line of duty during 2008 will be engraved on the Memorial next spring. They will be officially dedicated on the Memorial during the 21st Annual Candlelight Vigil on May 13, 2009.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Crime May be Down, but Police Chiefs Still Worry about Officer Safety

By Kevin Morison

Approximately 175 police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, law enforcement policymakers and practitioners from across the country came together in Washington, DC, yesterday to discuss the state of crime in the U.S. and to help map out a crime-fighting agenda for the future. Organized by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the National Violent Crime Summit covered a wide range of topics, including some issues related to law enforcement officer safety.

Executive Director Chuck Wexler discussed the results of PERF’s analysis of preliminary crime statistics in approximately 200 jurisdictions. In general, the study showed that violent crime appeared to decline during the first half of 2008, although Mr. Wexler noted that the statistics were collected before the full impact of the current financial crisis was felt.

Even though overall crime may be down, a number of chiefs cited violence against their officers as a continuing concern. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey reported that assaults against his officers are up 18 percent this year and that four officers have been killed violently over the past 12 months, including one officer shot with a high-powered SKS rifle.

Miami Police Chief John Timoney, who also serves as PERF’s president, cited the growing threat of assault weapons in south Florida. He said that 22 percent of the murders in his city last year were committed with AK-47s and that two south Florida law enforcement officers were killed with assault rifles last year. Similarly, Police Superintendent Warren Riley said 15 percent of the homicides committed in New Orleans now involve assault weapons, and he, too, worries about the impact on officer safety of so many high-powered weapons on the streets.

Several chiefs sounded a two-pronged alarm about the current financial crisis. On the one hand, they worry that as more people lose their jobs, both property and violent crime may rise. At the same time, tight municipal budgets could force some departments to cut the number of sworn officers, thus exposing safety concerns for their personnel.

As part of its survey of American cities, PERF asked police executives to identify their top programmatic and funding priorities for the next administration in Washington. Yesterday’s summit also included presentations by the two major Presidential campaigns concerning their views on crime control. George Terwilliger, deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, represented the campaign of Senator John McCain. Eric Holder, deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, represented the campaign of Senator Barack Obama.

Later this year, PERF plans to publish a report on the National Violent Crime Summit, part of its 2008 Critical Issues in Policing Series, which is supported by Motorola. Based in Washington, DC, PERF is one of the founding board member organizations of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Maryland Enacts New Protections for Transit Officers

The state of Maryland has taken an important step to help protect Metro Transit Police officers within its jurisdiction. Effective October 1, it became a felony under Maryland law to assault a Metro Transit Police officer. Previously, such crimes were considered a misdemeanor offense.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the legislation, which includes Metro Transit Police officers under the state’s Law Enforcement Officer Protection Act.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is the public transit system that operates subways and buses in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia. Assaulting a Metro Transit Police officer was already considered a felony in DC and Virginia.

“We’re pleased to see this new law go into effect. The safety of our officers is of utmost concern. We hope that the law deters assaults on Metro Transit police officers and keeps offenders out of the Metro system,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn.

The move comes as attacks on all Metro employees seem to be on the rise. In March, WMATA General Manager John Catoe reported that attacks on Metrobus operators have more than doubled during the past five years.

In the history of the Metro Transit Police, two officers have been killed in the line of duty. On December 19, 1993, Officer Harry Davis Jr. was shot several times outside the Metro station in Landover, MD, as he questioned two people who were sitting in a vehicle that was reported stolen; Officer Davis died the next day.

On June 10, 2001, Officer Marlon Morales was shot when he confronted a fare jumper at the U Street-Cardozo Metro station in northwest DC. He succumbed to his wounds three days later.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial includes the names of both Officer Davis (Panel 42 West-Line 19) and Officer Morales (Panel 4 East-Line 22). Let’s hope that through efforts such as the new Maryland law, Metro Transit Police officers will be able to work more effectively and more safely.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Deadly Three Months for U.S. Law Enforcement

As thousands of mourners packed the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul or watched on a huge screen erected in Logan Circle across the street, the Philadelphia Police Department laid to rest another fallen hero Tuesday morning. The funeral of Sergeant Patrick McDonald was a sad and poignant end to a deadly three months for American law enforcement.

A member of Philadelphia’s elite Highway Patrol, Sergeant McDonald was brutally executed on a North Philadelphia street September 23rd by a career criminal who had just recently received an early release from prison and already had an outstanding warrant for assaulting another police officer. He was the second Philadelphia Police officer to die in the line of duty during the month of September alone. Officer Isabel Nazario was killed September 5th when the police cruiser she was riding in was broadsided by an SUV driven by an intoxicated 16 year old . Including Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski (EOW: May 3, 2008) and Officer Charles Cassidy (EOW: November 1, 2007), four Philadelphia Police officers have died in the line of duty in the past 11 months.

As Commissioner Charles Ramsey said during Sergeant McDonald's funeral, Philadelphia Police are feeling “disbelief, anger and sadness” right now.

And, tragically, they are not alone.

Over the last three months (July 1 and September 30, 2008), a total of 44 U.S. law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, according to preliminary data from the NLEOMF. That translates into about one officer killed every 50 hours nationwide. By contrast, between January 1 and June 30 of this year, 61 officers died – or about one fatality every 72 hours.

More, and more brutal, killings

Officer fatalities are still down sharply from 2007, which was one of the deadliest years for law enforcement in the past two decades. But the reduction in fatalities this year – an encouraging 40 percent as of June 30th – was only 25 percent by September 30th. After six months of steady declines, the 44 officers killed during the third quarter of this year represented a 10 percent increase from the 40 officers who died during the same period of 2007.

Not just the number, but also the brutality of some of the killings, seems to have intensified of late. On September 6th, Sergeant Paul Starzyk of the Martinez (CA) Police Department was shot and killed during a gun battle at a hair salon where the estranged husband of an employee had gone with a gun looking for his wife. On September 19th, Caldwell County (NC) Deputy Sheriff Adam Klutz was ambushed and fatally shot as he exited his patrol vehicle after responding to 9-1-1 hang-up call at a residence. One day later, Officer Kristine Fairbanks of the USDA Forest Service, died from a single gunshot wound to the head after she stopped to investigate a suspicious vehicle on Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

Two officers killed in Chicago

And on September 28th, Chicago Police Officer Nathaniel Taylor was gunned down on the city’s South Side attempting to serve a warrant at the suspect’s residence. Ironically – and tragically – the same suspect had fired shots at police in the very same neighborhood 18 years earlier, an offense for which he served three years in prison.

Officer Taylor’s death was the last of the 42 that occurred during the third quarter of the year. The Chicago Police Department also experienced the first line-of-duty death during that period. On July 2nd, Officer Richard Francis was shot and killed with his service weapon after responding to a disturbance call on a Chicago Transit Authority bus near the Belmont District station where we worked on the city’s North Side.

Of the 44 officers who died during the past three months, 13 were shot, 21 were killed in traffic-related incidents, and two – both members of the Maryland State Police – died in a helicopter crash.

Fulfilling our mission

Three months ago, when officer fatalities were down 40 percent for the year, the NLEOMF cautioned that it was too early to “declare victory.” Now that fatalities have edged up over the past three months should be cause for concern, but not necessarily viewed as the beginning of a new and deadly trend.

Consistent with our mission to “provide information that will help promote law enforcement safety,” the NLEOMF will continue to monitor and report on the latest trends in officer deaths and safety issues.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"I've been shot. But I'm okay...."

By Kevin Morison

"I've been shot. But I'm okay. I think the vest got it."

Those are the chilling words Alexandria (VA) Police Officer Kyle Russell called in on his radio Tuesday night soon after he had pulled over a man for driving erratically on Interstate 395 outside Washington, DC. The driver pulled a .45-caliber handgun and shot the officer through the passenger side window. Officer Russell, who has been on the force 3 1/2 years, was struck in the upper torso, but the body armor he was wearing absorbed most of the impact. Officer Russell was treated and released at a local hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. The gunman apparently committed suicide a short time later; investigators believe he had previously murdered his wife.

Alexandria Police Chief David P. Baker was direct in his assessment of the attack on Officer Russell. "Bottom line is: No vest, he's a goner. It was a .45-caliber," he told the Washington Post.

The IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club reports that since 1987, more than 3,000 individuals working in law enforcement have survived both ballistic and non-ballistic incidents because they were wearing body armor. With Officer Russell, they can add one more heroic member to the club.

Read more and watch video on NBC.com -- Officer Russell in his own words and a report on how safety vests work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sadness, Anger and Disbelief over the Loss of another Philadelphia Police Officer

by Kevin Morison

Mayor Nutter, Commissioner Ramsey and other Philadelphia Police officials express their outrage over the shooting death of Officer McDonald. Calling the recent rash of attacks on officers something he has never seen in 40 years of policing, Ramsey questioned why cop killer Daniel Giddings, who had a history of disruptive behavior behind bars, had been released from prison before completing his full term. Police also expect to bring charges against a South Carolina man who purchased the murder weapon and several other guns (one of which was used in an earlier robbery) in what appeared to be a "straw purchase." Read the Philadelphia Inquirer story and watch video of Mayor Nutter and Commissioner Ramsey.

In the 14 years I worked for Chuck Ramsey – first with the Chicago Police Department and then with the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC – I was always impressed by his insight and eloquence. Ramsey, who is now the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, just has an uncanny knack for knowing what to say and when to say it.

So when I emailed him on Tuesday afternoon to express condolences over the fatal shooting of Philadelphia Highway Patrol Officer Patrick McDonald – the third Philadelphia Police officer killed in the line of duty this year – Ramsey’s reply was uncharacteristically brief. His message was one word: “Bad.”

Nola Joyce, another Ramsey protégé from Chicago and DC who is working with the Commissioner in Philadelphia, was only slightly more verbose – and equally haunting. “Words can’t describe the feeling here,” she wrote. “It is sadness, anger, disbelief all rolled into one. It is not good.”

The attacks on members of the Philadelphia Police Department over the past two-and-a-half years have been shocking not just for their frequency – five officers killed in the line of duty and literally dozens more fired upon and, in several cases, injured – but even more so for their brazenness.

Tuesday’s incident took place in the middle of a sunny afternoon in a North Philadelphia neighborhood just a few blocks from Temple University. That’s when Officer McDonald became engaged in a gun battle with a wanted felon who had only recently been released from prison for a 1998 robbery and aggravated assault conviction. A warrant had been issued a week earlier for a subsequent altercation with police. During the gun battle, Officer McDonald was shot. As he lay wounded on the street, the 27-year-old killer reportedly stood over Officer McDonald and fired several more times.

An “execution,” in the words of Homicide Captain James Clark.

A fellow member of the elite Highway Patrol, Officer Richard Bowes, was shot and injured upon responding to Officer McDonald’s call for help. During the ensuing foot pursuit and gun battle with police, the offender was killed, clutching a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun as he went down.

McDonald’s killing came just weeks after Officer Isabel Nazario was killed after her patrol car was struck by a stolen SUV being driven recklessly by a 16-year-old boy. On May 3 of this year, Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski was gunned down by one of three bank robbers after a Saturday morning stickup at a branch bank inside a local supermarket. Last October, Officer Chuck Cassidy was fatally shot at point-blank range during a robbery at a Dunkin’ Donuts on Officer Cassidy’s beat. And in May 2006, Officer Gary Skerski was shot to death outside a bar when he and his partner interrupted a holdup.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter captured the outrage of the Police Department and the community when he told the local media, “I do not know what is going on in the minds of some of these individuals out here. When they come upon a Philadelphia police officer … somehow, they believe they can engage in gunfights with us.”

The Philadelphia Police Department is truly hurting from these outrageous attacks on its officers. But the really amazing thing is that, despite the shock, despite the anger, despite the grief and even uncertainty enveloping the department right now – there are, at this very moment, literally hundreds of amazingly dedicated law enforcement officers out patrolling the streets of the city. Men and women who got up today, put on their uniforms, pinned on their badges and hit the streets so that citizens and visitors in the City of Brotherly Love could go about their lives in relative safety and less fear.

The people of Philadelphia owe the members of their Police Department abiding gratitude and respect at all times. But right now, in this time of extreme heartbreak for the city and the police, all of us would do well to stop for a moment, contemplate the events of Philadelphia, mourn their fallen heroes and send out our hopes and prayers for better, more peaceful days ahead.

Read Craig Floyd’s tribute to Philadelphia Police officers killed in the line of duty throughout the city’s history.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fallen Officers Remembered for Hispanic Heritage Month

Washington, DC - In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, leaders of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and the Hispanic law enforcement community gathered Monday in Washington, DC, to pay tribute to the 637 Hispanic law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The wreathlaying ceremony took place at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, where the names of all law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice are engraved.

Joining NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd in placing a wreath at the Memorial’s center medallion were Plainfield (NJ) Police Detective Edwin Maldanado, East Coast Vice President of the National Latino Peace Officers Association (NLPOA); DC Metropolitan Police Lieutenant Juan Espinal, President of the NLPOA Washington, DC, Metro Chapter; and Special Agent Zinnia James of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, representing the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association.

“The walls of this Memorial are inscribed with the names of law enforcement officers of myriad races, ethnicities and national origins – all of them heroes who made their communities safer and our nation more secure,” said Mr. Floyd. “Today, as our country begins its observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, we come to this sacred ground to pay our respects to the 637 Hispanic law enforcement officers who died in service to the community.”

Added Detective Maldanado, “The NLPOA and our National President Roy Garivey are honored to partner with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. We come to Washington, DC, to honor not only the service and sacrifice of Latino and Hispanic officers at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, but to honor all American law enforcement officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe.”

As a demonstration of its commitment to the law enforcement profession, the NLPOA recently pledged $100,000 to the capital campaign to build the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum, adjacent to the National Memorial in the nation’s capital.

NLEOMF research records indicate that the first Hispanic American law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty was Joaquin De La Torre, a deputy sheriff with the Monterey County (CA) Sheriff's Department. On November 10, 1855, Deputy De La Torre and two other members of his department were shot and killed while attempting to make an arrest. He was one of only three Hispanic law enforcement to die in the line of duty during the 19th Century.

During the first half of the 20th Century, a total of 90 Hispanic officers made the ultimate sacrifice. As the Hispanic American population of the United States grew as a whole, so did the number of Hispanics serving in law enforcement – and the sacrifices endured by these brave men and women. From 1950 through 1999, 407 Hispanic officers died in the line of duty.

Since the year 2000, more than 140 Hispanic American officers have made the ultimate sacrifice, including 20 in 2007. Over the last decade, 1 in 10 law enforcement fatalities in the United States has involved a Hispanic American officer.

Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on September 15, is a nationwide celebration of the contributions of people of Hispanic heritage to the history of the United States.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Wreathlaying Ceremony

Staff and supporters of the NLEOMF gathered at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial early Thursday morning to remember and honor the 72 law enforcement officers who died during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history.

With cool, clear skies overhead, staff read a roll call of the names of all 72 officers who were killed that day—71 at the World Trade Center in New York City and one, Richard Guadagno, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who is believed to be among the heroes who commandeered United Flight 93 from the terrorists, forcing it to crash in Shanksville, PA, before it could reach its intended target and claim many more lives.

Staff then placed a memorial wreath behind Panels 9W through 22W of the Memorial, where the names of the 72 officers are proudly engraved on Line 23. As participants paused to reflect on the sacrifice of the law enforcement that day, Berneta Spence, NLEOMF Director of Research, and Lynn Lyons-Wynne, Senior Director for Memorial Programs, talked about some of the stories behind the names.

As the brief ceremony came to a conclusion, Chaplain David Duffany of Prince George’s County (MD) stepped forward to salute each of the panels adorned with a rose. Just then, the sound of bagpipes could be heard from the 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the nearby Washington Field Office of the FBI.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Relections on 9-11

By Craig W. Floyd
NLEOMF Chairman and CEO

Craig Floyd authored this essay on the events of September 11, 2001, one year after the terrorists struck our nation. His reflections remain poignant on this, the seventh anniversary of 9-11, the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history.

It has been a year since 9-11, and like everyone else I cannot help but recall some of the powerful memories of that horrific day and the months and events that followed. Strangely, many of the memories about 9-11 and its aftermath are not all bad ... the heroes; the patriotism that was ignited when those towers fell; and the public's outpouring of support for our public safety officers ... just to name a few. But, unfortunately, none of us will ever think of 9-11 without remembering the thousands of lives that were lost, the pain and grief of the survivors, and the physical and emotional trauma experienced by the rescuers.

Sitting in my office two blocks from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on the morning of September 11, I remember watching the horror unfold on television. But, at about 9:30 a.m., before the towers collapsed and the full gravity of the catastrophe was understood, I took a previously scheduled conference call to discuss the progress we were making on the National Law Enforcement Museum. Some of the project team members had not yet heard the news and we began filling them in. Suddenly, one of them, driving in a car near the Pentagon reported that smoke was now billowing from that symbol of military might. Moments later, the television beamed the pictures of the Pentagon on fire. The conference call ended. There was now no question ... America was under attack.

The rest of the day is more of a blur. I remember my wife coming to our office from a meeting downtown. She was in tears, emotionally devastated by what she was seeing and the reports she had heard. She was worried about our children and a cousin who worked high up in the World Trade Center (thankfully, the cousin was stuck on a subway train when the attacks occurred and she would be fine). My wife walked several blocks to our office, across the national mall, with the Pentagon smoke filling the air, and the nation's capital in a state of panic. Reports of other planes on their way to destroy more buildings and more lives filled the airwaves. No more planes came, but plenty of damage was already done and hours later, Washington, D.C. was a ghost town.

A week later, I made a trip to New York City at the invitation of the New York City PBA. I was taken to "Ground Zero" and saw the devastation up close and personal. The site was eerily silent. Most of the rescuers had on masks to protect against the smoke-filled air. The towers were now small mountains of rubble. Only a few stories of the metal facades of the buildings still stood, appearing like tombstones to the thousands of people who had died. We tied a Memorial flag, with the shield and rose logo, to one of the railings nearby and I was told recently that the flag remained at Ground Zero throughout the rescue and recovery effort as a well-earned symbol of honor and remembrance for the 71 law enforcement officers who died there on 9-11.

I'll never forget what Scott Williamson, my friend and New York City police escort, said to me that day. He proudly recalled several of his Bronx police colleagues who died that day, including: Sgt. John Coughlin; Officer Stephen Driscoll; Officer Vincent Danz; Officer Jerome Dominguez; Officer John Perry; and Officer Walter "Wally" Weaver. Scott mentioned that he was a close friend with several of the missing officers. In fact, Scott said he was planning to go on a fly-fishing trip with Wally Weaver in October. He commented that Steve Driscoll "was always the first one through the door" on dangerous calls, and that he always attended the Widows and Orphans Christmas Party to help make sure the families of the fallen were cared for. John Perry's story should make every officer a little prouder to wear the badge. Scott told me that this veteran officer was putting in his retirement papers a few blocks away at Police Headquarters when he heard about the attack. He ran over to the World Trade Center to help save lives. He was never seen again.

But as sad as he was about losing his friends and colleagues, he was equally proud of what they had done. He explained that no matter how far away these officers might have been when the call for help went out, they were determined to be there so they could help save lives. They were right where they wanted to be, doing exactly what they wanted to do when they died, he said. It was a comforting thought.

Most of all, I will never forget the ride out of Ground Zero. I was riding in a police cruiser when we neared a crowded intersection filled with citizens who were applauding and cheering loudly. Some held signs saying, "We love our police and firefighters." It was a sentiment shared by all Americans at the time.

So much of the rest of the year has been filled with events honoring the heroes of 9-11, and deservedly so. A month after 9-11, we commemorated the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial with a gala event that had been planned long before the terrorist attacks. Obviously, 9-11 received much of our focus that night. Representatives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, and the New York City Police Department attended as our special guests and were treated to thunderous ovations. A Virginia State Trooper named Michael Middleton attended with his wife, representing the heroic rescuers at the Pentagon. Trooper Middleton suffered life threatening injuries when he raced into the burning building just minutes after the crash. He was pulled to safety and rushed to the hospital, where he recovered from his injuries. He and his wife were moved to tears when their turn came to be recognized and thanked that evening for all he had done on 9-11.

Two days later, hundreds of people gathered at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial for our 10th anniversary wreathlaying ceremony. Joining us that day were about 30 family members of some of the officers who had died on 9-11. They arrived by bus just moments before the ceremony began and solemnly filed into their seats. A special wreath was placed in honor of their loved ones and they offered their own personal show of remembrance with the placement of red roses on the Memorial's center medallion. Tears were shed that day, but most said they were glad to have made the trip. After all, that Memorial would now have very special meaning to each of them.

December brought with it another special salute to the law enforcement heroes of 9-11. The Olympic Torch Relay scheduled a stop at the Memorial in their honor. Patriotism flooded the site as hundreds stood by and watched as Officer Isaac Hoopii of the Defense Protective Service (the Pentagon Police) proudly carried the Olympic Torch onto the Memorial grounds accompanied by his K-9 dog, and 12 police colleagues. The Pentagon police had saved many lives on 9-11 and they were lucky to escape with their own. Among those there to greet Officer Hoopii was Wayne Sinclair, one of the Pentagon victims who narrowly escaped death thanks to Isaac Hoopii's daring rescue efforts.

In April, a public cermony was held as we began engraving the names of the officers who died on 9-11 onto the Memorial's marble walls. Port Authority Police Chief Joseph Morris was there that day. He stood and watched as his predecessor, Fred Morrone's name, was engraved onto the Memorial, one of 37 Port Authority officers to die that day. New York City Police Officer James Smith saw his wife's name, Moira Smith, etched into the blue-gray marble. He then placed a haunting photo of his wife helping a bloodied victim to safety on 9-11, just moments before she went back into one of the towers to help others. Moira never made it out before the tower she was in collapsed.

On May 13, with some 25,000 people in attendance, a candlelight vigil was held at the Memorial honoring all of America's fallen officers. The names of 480 new additions, including the 72 officers who died on 9-11, were all read aloud. During the ceremony two guests on the dais were given special recognition. Those two Port Authority officers were John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno. They were buried alive when the towers collapsed and witnessed the death of three of their colleagues. They never thought they would make it out alive, but many hours later they were pulled from the rubble in a miraculous rescue. They were, in fact, the last living people to be pulled from the World Trade Center. Their story is all about courage and a will to survive and recover from one of the greatest acts of evil and destruction our nation will ever know. That is the memory I have chosen to remember the most.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Virginia Judge Gets Creative--Sentences Driver to Help Publicize "Move Over" Law

By Kevin Morison

A Fairfax County (VA) judge has come up with a novel sentence for a drunk driver who slammed into a parked Virginia State Police cruiser last April and seriously injured a trooper: 45 days in jail, plus 100 hours helping publicize Virginia’s “Move Over” law that requires drivers to exercise caution around emergency vehicles by the side of the roadway.

The Washington Post reports that Fairfax General District Court Judge Thomas E. Gallahue had recently seen a presentation on Virginia’s Move Over law and decided the campaign could benefit from the help of the 34-year-old driver who was charged with drunk driving in the incident.

The trooper, J.T. Mahalik, had stopped another motorist along I-66 west of Washington, DC, and was sitting in his cruiser with the other driver when David J. Stout of Centreville, VA, rear-ended the cruiser, causing it to burst into flames. Though suffering spinal injuries and burns to his legs, Trooper Mahalik managed to pull to safety the man in his cruiser, who was unconscious by this time, before the cruiser became totally engulfed in flames.

This was the first of three crashes in less than two weeks last spring in which troopers were struck and injured by other drivers. That prompted the State Police to ramp up its enforcement of, and publicity surrounding, the state’s Move Over law … with the help of Judge Gallahue.

State Police spokeswoman Corrine Geller told that Post that the agency “appreciates the opportunity that the judge has afforded us to have other means to educate the public about officer safety.” She said police were considering using Mr. Stout to create a public service announcement for radio or television, or assist troopers with presentations.

Let’s hope others are paying attention to the creative sentencing employed by Judge Gallahue. 2008 is the 11th year in a row in which more law enforcement officers nationwide are being killed in traffic-related incidents than from gunshots or any other single cause of death. Our officers need and deserve all the protection they can get while out on our roadways working to protect the rest of us. Move Over laws are an important step. But there needs to be more public education about the laws—and swift, certain and sometimes creative consequences for those who violate the law and endanger our officers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Roadside Tragedy 7 Years Ago Reminder of the Importance to "Move Over" for Emergency Personnel

By Lt. Gregg Hastings
Oregon State Police

In remembrance of the 7th anniversary of an incident that claimed the lives of two police officers and critically injured a third, police officers around Oregon want motorists to continually be aware of the need to move over when driving near police, firefighters and other emergency personnel working on the side of our roads.

On September 4, 2001, a drowsy driver drove onto the shoulder of northbound Interstate 5 near milepost 243 and struck three officers as they were standing outside of patrol vehicles assisting a family in a disabled van. Oregon State Police (OSP) Senior Trooper Maria Mignano, age 39, and off-duty Albany police officer Jason Hoerauf, age 29, were killed. OSP Sergeant John Burright was critically injured.

That tragic incident led to Oregon's "Move Over" law that has been in effect for five years, helping to keep emergency personnel safe as they work along Oregon roads. The "Move Over" law (ORS 811.147) states that if you are driving up behind or next to any type of emergency vehicle – police car, ambulance or public safety vehicle – working on the roadside with emergency lights flashing, you must:
  • Move over to another lane.
  • If you cannot safely change lanes, you must slow down.
  • In all cases, the driver must try to provide as much room as possible for the emergency vehicle.
Failure to comply with the "Move Over" law can result in a fine up to $355.

In addition to the new law, Oregon Department of Transportation and law enforcement agencies have been working to educate as many people as possible of this law with the lofty goal of getting 100% compliance. In addition to stepped up enforcement, the statewide campaign includes new state highway signs, billboards, radio advertisements, transit bus signs, rest area posters and brochures promoting the "Move Over" safety message.

Forty-threestates have passed "Move Over" laws, but a recent study indicates approximately 70 percent of Americans are unaware of this law. According to national and state statistics:
  • More than 700 police officers have been killed in the last ten years when struck while working along highways.
  • Of the 27 OSP troopers who have died in the line of duty, three were hit by cars while stopped on the side of the road.
  • Since 2000, nearly 20 Oregon emergency service workers have been killed or injured while responding to an incident alongside the road.
Additional information and resources are available on ODOT's website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Coming (Hopefully) to a State Near You: The Blue Alert Network

Ask most people about an Amber Alert and they know right away what you are talking about: an emergency alert system that enlists the help of the media and the public in finding missing children who have been abducted.

But a “Blue Alert?”

Thanks to forward-thinking leaders in two states, that concept might someday become just as well known in the hunt for criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

Following the lead of Florida, Texas Governor Rick Perry this week signed an executive order launching the Blue Alert network in the Lone Star State. The Governor’s Office said the program “will enable rapid, statewide distribution of information related to offenders who flee after killing or seriously injuring federal, state or local law enforcement officers in the line of duty.”

The program will rely on a range of communications vehicles, including electronic message boards on highways and media alerts. The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management are currently recruiting Blue Alert partners among public and commercial television and radio broadcasters; private commercial entities; local, state and federal government entities; and any others who can assist in spreading offenders’ information following an attack on a law enforcement officer.

The concept is so simple and straightforward it’s surprising it hasn’t been implemented sooner and more broadly. But now that two of the nation’s largest states are on board, let’s hope the Blue Alert system takes hold nationwide. Data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show that while officer fatalities (thankfully) are down sharply this year, a police officer still dies somewhere in America every three days or so. In those situations in which the offender flees, this type of system could be extremely valuable in quickly apprehending dangerous criminals who would harm our peace officers and the public.

Read Governor Perry’s announcement, and encourage your state leaders to get on board with Blue Alert.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sheriff Made History Simply by Doing His Job

Mementos Donated To D.C. Museum
August 14, 2008
By Michael E. Ruane
The Washington Post

Sheriff Lucius Amerson's fat Colt revolver is scarred and corroded from that night four decades ago when his patrol car crashed and burned while he chased a stolen vehicle down a winding road in rural Alabama.

His size 16 1/2 shirts, on which he would pin his badge, name plate and "sheriff" in gold letters, are creased and yellowed.

And the 1960s newspaper clippings from across the country noting Amerson's election as the first black sheriff in the South since Reconstruction are crumbling.
Read article

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

National Night Out at the National Mall!

Thousands of DC-area residents and out-of-town (and out-of-country) visitors stopped by the National Mall yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Night Out with Target, the DC Metropolitan Police Department, and Memorial Fund and Museum staff.

With everything from a Junior Forensic Scientist fingerprint activity booklet to free photographs behind cardboard replicas of real Museum artifacts, our exhibit boasted some of the highest visitation of any booth at the event! (Okay, we just couldn’t beat the free cold bottles of water that Target employees and volunteers gave out in the center of all the activity! It is August in DC, after all.)

National Night Out was a wonderful success for the NLEOMF. We got a chance to meet some great law enforcement supporters and interact with a staple of the National Mall and of Washington, DC - tourists! With clipboards in hand, Museum team members approached visitors with questions about their impressions of law enforcement movies and TV shows - the characters, the plots and the scenes that have come to shape the way we view law enforcement today.

Who is your favorite TV or movie cop character?
What is your favorite car chase?
What is the best shootout?
What is the best line from a cop movie or TV show?

We hope to use the answers to our questionnaire to help form content for the Museum's "Reel to Real" Gallery.

To try out the questionnaire yourself, and help us come up with ideas for the soon-to-be-built National Law Enforcement Museum, click here.

Thank you to everyone who celebrated National Night Out 2008 - in DC or any other city! The key to keeping our neighborhoods, and our police officers, safe comes from the way we all work together -- families, communities and law enforcement.

Check out the fun in our slideshow!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Iraqi Minister Lays Wreath at the Memorial

Iraqi Minister Lays Ceremonial Wreath at MemorialOn July 30, 2008, the Honorable Jawad Karim al Bulani, Iraqi Minister of the Interior, visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to lay a ceremonial wreath in honor of all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Minister Bulani’s trip to the Memorial was a joint effort by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Defense.
NLEOMF Chairman Craig W. Floyd presents Iraqi Minister Bulani with a commemorative gift.NLEOMF Chairman Craig W. Floyd welcomed Minister Bulani, saying, “This wreath-laying ceremony is a symbol of the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers around the world.” Floyd also noted that, since 2003, approximately 12,000 Iraqi police and security officers have paid the ultimate sacrifice. “We are proud partners in Iraq’s quest for freedom and democracy,” said Floyd.

The Honorable Jawad Karim al Bulani, Iraqi Minister of the Interior“My visit here is to express our respect and deep appreciation of law enforcement officers. Police are the front line in defending all that is holy and sacred in life,” said Minister Bulani in his address to the ceremony attendees. Minister Bulani praised the Iraqi police, noting that they retain the highest level of loyalty to civil service and hold an important position within the community. The minister said that the Iraqi police create an environment where communities can prosper, enabling them to be active and give people hope for a better future. The U.S. Park Police present the colors as part of the Wreath-Laying Ceremony.The Iraqi police have made great sacrifices for the freedom of the Iraqi people, he continued, rising to the functions given to them. “Iraqi police are subject to assassinations and liquidations,” he said. “Criminals tried to deter. They failed. We prevailed.”

Minister Bulani concluded his remarks by saying that Iraq remembers the great sacrifices made by the American people and our country’s help to Iraq. Thanking America, Minister Bulani said, “I salute all police forces in the U.S. for their great service.”