Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Trends: Law Enforcement Fatalities in 2009

2009 was indeed a tale of two trends in U.S. law enforcement fatalities.

Fewer officers died in the line of duty in 2009 (124 as of yesterday) than in any year since 1959. However, the number of officers who were shot and killed surged 23 percent this year, driven in part by five separate incidents in which multiple officers were gunned down by one offender. Those are among the key findings of a new report released today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in conjunction with Concerns of Police Survivors.

“This year’s overall, 7 percent reduction in law enforcement deaths was driven largely by a steep, 21 percent drop in the number of officers killed in traffic-related incidents,” reported NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “However, that bit of good news was overshadowed by an alarming surge in the number of officers killed by gunfire.”

Other findings of the preliminary 2009 law enforcement officers fatality report:
  • Nearly one-third of this year’s 48 firearms-related fatalities—15 deaths in all—occurred in just five incidents in which more than one officer was shot by a single gunman. These tragedies took place in Lakewood, WA (4 deaths); Oakland, CA (4); Pittsburgh, PA (3); Okaloosa County, FL (2), and Seminole County, OK (2). 2009 saw the most multiple-fatality law enforcement deaths since 1981.
  • The law enforcement heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in 2009 came from 35 states and Puerto Rico. For the third year in a row, Texas, Florida and California had the most fatalities—a combined figure of 28, or 23 percent of the national total.
  • Six federal law enforcement officers died in 2009, including three special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration who were killed in an October helicopter crash in Afghanistan while conducting counter-narcotics operations.
  • The average age of the officers killed this year was 39; they averaged 10.5 years of law enforcement service.
  • All but one of the officers killed this year were men; the one female was Officer Tina Griswold, one of the four Lakewood (WA) officers ambushed in November. By contrast, nearly 10 percent of the officers killed in all of 2008 were women, the highest percentage in history.
Read the full NLEOMF Research Bulletin at www.LawMemorial.org/ResearchBulletin, and leave your comments here.

Footnote: Sadly, just hours after the preliminary 2009 report was released, we learned of the latest law enforcement death of 2009: Pierce County (WA) Deputy Sheriff Kent Mundell succummed to gunshot wounds he suffered on December 21 as he and another deputy responded to a domsestic disturbance call in Eatonville. He is the sixth officer from the Seattle/Puget Sound area to be gunned down in just the past two months -- a shocking spate of violence against law enforcement.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Appeals Courts Overturns California Ban on Felons Owning Body Armor

It's known as the North Hollywood Shootout: two heavily armed bank robbers wearing military-grade, bullet-resistant body armor confronted police in a fierce, 44-minute gun battle in Los Angeles on February 28, 1997. A total of 10 officers and a half dozen citizens were injured before the gunmen were killed. The incident prompted the California Legislature the next year to enact a law prohibiting convicted felons from owning body armor as a way to help protect law enforcement.

Last week, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles overturned the law, saying its definition of body armor was unconstitutionally vague. "It just makes this job that much more dangerous," Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) told the Los Angeles Times. "It's going to make criminals more bold and more likely to shoot it out with the police." Mr. Weber said the LAPPL, which represents almost 10,000 officers, will ask the state attorney general's office to file an appeal, which could prompt a review by the California Supreme Court.

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-body-armor20-2009dec20,0,5869498.story.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

After an Unthinkable Tragedy, Lakewood Begins to Heal

Saturday, December 12, 2009, at 8:14 am, more than 100 people were waiting in line at the Forza coffee shop where the four Lakewood (WA) Police officers -- Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Ron Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards -- were ambushed and killed only 12 days earlier. The people were in line not just to buy coffee but to honor the memory and sacrifice of the officers and to formally re-open the store.

Inside the store, a poster with pictures of the four officers, along with Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton, who was killed on October 31, 2009, in Seattle, was proudly displayed on the walls. The shop re-opened with support from the Lakewood Police Department and the officers' families. Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar was first in line and felt very strongly that the shop should re-open because, "You can't let the bad guys win."

To read the full article from the Seattle Times, please visit: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010494733_coffeeshop13m.html.

The Lakewood Memorial Service was held on December 8, 2009, in the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA. There were more than 2,000 officers in the official procession and over 20,000 people at the Dome, with hundreds of other indivduals attending viewing ceremonies at other sites. Pictures from the ceremony are available at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/photogalleries/localnews2010453392/13.html.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two Heroes Honored on the Bomb Technician Memorial

On December 7, 2009, Oregon State Police Senior Trooper William Hakim and New Mexico State Police Lieutenant Michael C. Avilucea's names were formally added to the National Bomb Technician Memorial in Huntsville, AL. Over 150 friends and family attended the ceremony.

Senior Trooper Hakim was killed on December 12, 2008, by an explosive device at a bank that also killed Woodburn (OR) Police Captain Tom Tennant and seriously injured Police Chief Scott Russell.

Senior Trooper Hakim left behind a wife, Terri, a 19-year old daughter and a 17-year old son. He was 51 years old and was an 11-year OSP veteran.

Lieutenant Avilucea was also 51-years old. He was killed in a vehicle crash on his way from an explosive recovery assignment on May 30, 2008. The names of these fallen heroes were added this past spring to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC.

There are now 15 fallen bomb specialists on the Bomb Technician Memorial. To view pictures from the Memorial and the recent ceremony, please visit: http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/NEWSRL/news/12_11_2009_hdsmemorial_hakim.shtml.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Day to Remember

In August 1984, U.S. Capitol Poilice Sergeant Christopher S. Eney died in the line of duty. Vivian Eney Cross recently shared her insights into the 25th anniversary of her husband's death and how the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial ensures her husband's sacrifice will never be forgotten. The following article from the November 2009 edition of the Simulcast Newsletter, a publication of the Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge #1, is reprinted with their permission.

On August 24, 1984 my husband, Sgt. Christopher S. Eney died in the line-of-duty. At the time of his death, we had been married 12 ½ years and had two daughters, Shannen & Heather, 11 & 9 years old. This year was going to be the 25th Anniversary of his death. The girls and I had been talking on and off as to what we felt we should do to honor this milestone in our lives. We had no idea what was waiting for us.

Early in the summer our liaison officer with US Capitol Police, Doug Shugars called and said that they wanted to participate in whatever we choose to do. We decided to have the service at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The service we had at the gravesite 25 years ago was beautiful and honorable, but the grave only acknowledges the death. We wanted to celebrate who he was and what he stood for – and that could only be done at the Police Memorial. The Memorial is where his service is acknowledged – it is also where his sacrifice is honored.

About 35 family members gathered at USCP Headquarters on Aug. 18th. We then boarded a police bus and they took us lights and sirens to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. I was to find out later that the department had coordinated with Metropolitan Police for our travel through DC. Once at the Memorial the center had been set up for a lovely service. The service allowed not only the Chief to speak and staff from the Memorial to speak; the girls and I were given the opportunity to speak. Finally the girls had a chance to stand before their law enforcement family and let them know how much the officers had come to mean to them – but also express to them what all these years standing by our side had meant to them. As the service ended, roses were given to us and to the grandchildren. (Shannen has a set of triplets and a set of twins, Heather has a set of twins and a newborn) How touching it was to watch the grandchildren place their roses on the wreath. After the service the family was given the time to do some rubbings of his name and talk to the officers who had joined us that day. The extraordinary day was finished with a reception. There the girls and I were given citations from Congress and the Department’s highest award, given to Chris posthumously. At the reception hall two poster-sized pictures of Chris were on display and all who were there that day signed them and they were given to the girls.

What a day – the department will never know all that day meant to us because there will never be enough words to express what is in our heart. That day our lives had come full circle and the last piece of the puzzle to our healing process was fitted in place. God had indeed “restored the years the locusts had eaten.”

If any of you have ever wondered if all the effort to build the Police Memorial was worth it – wonder no more. I wish everyone could have watched those little 3-5 year olds as they placed their flowers for a Granddad they never knew and so slowly and so carefully did their rubbings of his name. Their day was filled with awe and wonder and anyone who asked them were told, “My Granddad died and he was a policeman and he was special.” Patriotism and inspiration were born in them that day. As my daughter got home with her 5 year old triplets and set about getting dinner ready, she happened to look up and see the three boys marching around the room like the honor-guard did – they took great pains to stand straight, shoulders were back, heads were high and not a word was spoken – they were reliving a very solemn moment – it was etched in their hearts for all of time. The Memorial gives to Police Families what it so desperately needed – a place of honor, a place of remembrance, a place of beauty to come and walk the paths and touch the names again, and again, and again!

Thank all of you for all your work in making this Memorial a reality. It is so special – it is Law Enforcement’s Hollowed Ground – and will be there for the next generation of heroes!

- Vivian Eney Cross

To view read more about the 25th Anniversary Wreahtlaying in honor of Sgt. Eney, along with photo and video, please visit: http://nleomf.blogspot.com/2009/08/25-years-later-saluting-fallen-hero-and.html.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Personal Tribute to the Fallen Heroes of Lakewood, WA

Pamela Cei Brisky, a former traffic safety coordinator who worked with the police in the Seattle-Tacoma area, reached out to Kevin Morison, NLEOMF's Senior Director of Communications, to pay her personal respects to the four officers from Lakewood, WA, who were killed in the line of duty on November 29. In addition to writing the following tribute, Pamela also ordered a wreath in honor of the officers, which was placed at the Memorial on the same day as their memorial service in Lakewood.

I moved to the DC Metro area from Washington State in 2006. While I lived in Washington State I worked as the DUI/Traffic Safety Coordinator for Mason County out of the Shelton Police Department. I was a civilian employee whose role was to act as an inter-agency coordinator between the municipal, county, tribal and state agencies. Officer [Tina] Griswold made her start at Shelton Police Department. By the time I came on board, she was with the Lacey Police Department. My friends who remain at the PD and those who have scattered have shared stories of a funny, sharp, spit-fire of a person. She has been, best as I can tell, remembered with as many smiles and with as much laughter as she has with tears.

Shelton is a tiny agency and the Puget Sound area is a small community. You have but to tap a shoulder of a stranger to find someone who had either grown up with, gone through the academy along-side, or worked with one of the fallen Lakewood officers. In that area there are probably two to three degrees of separation. I frequently rode with our county's agencies as well as those (on occasion) in Thurston and Pierce Counties and met so many great people who remain friends. So, in answer to the "Why?" I have a thousand answers. I guess I would say in a place like where we lived no one was a stranger or remained one for long. But, mostly, I would say that as a former citizen having lived under their watch, I wanted to say "thank you."

As I told you, I believe it may have been Tina’s old uniform that we used for kids to wear when posing for pictures with the patrol cars at the fair. I can remember how excited they were to dress up in a real police uniform. We used them because they were small. That irony is not lost on me now. It is obvious from the outpouring from friends and strangers - members of the community near and far - over the last eight days that there was nothing small about Tina, or any of these officers. I can’t think of anyone bigger. In a society where we look to the rich and famous to be our heroes rising and falling from grace, it truly is the grace of these four fallen that begs the descriptor “Hero.”

"In valor there is hope." This happens to be my favorite quotation and the most aptly chosen for the NLEOMF monument. Heroes bring us hope and inspire us to bring out the best in ourselves as citizens.

I am the child of a police officer. My parents were (ironically) killed coming back from a police Christmas party a week before Christmas by a drunk driver. While my father (or mother) was not killed in the line of duty, I understand the loss the families feel on some level, of having someone taken so senselessly and so unexpectedly. I dread what lies ahead for them. We always talk about our fallen officers (and soldiers) paying the ultimate price, but it is the survivors that bear the Hero's burden. I guess I just wanted something tangible here, far away, to say that none of them are forgotten - and probably, selfishly, to feel like I did something small to say that I care for everyone who is back there dealing with this first hand. My brother wrote my parent's epitaph that appears on their headstone, "The example you have set through the lives you have lived has provided us with the goals and guidance for our own. Until we are joined together again, you remain in our hearts. Eternal Thanks." In my own personal case, that was my hero's goodbye and it is one said too soon to Officers Griswold, Owens and Richards and Sergeant Renninger.

Thank you,

Pamela Cei Brisky

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Letter to the Editor" Memoralizes the Lives of the Four Lakewood Police Officers

By Karen L. Bune

"Law enforcement officers are people like anyone else. They have families and personal lives, but they place their lives at risk in the line of duty to protect the communities in which they live and serve. The lives of these officers meant something. They did not deserve to die while sitting at a coffee shop planning for their shift that was about to begin, and they did not deserve to die because they were visibly uniformed police officers. The monumental loss that has been sustained by this shocking episode impacts us all and reminds us that life is truly precious and should never be taken for granted."

To read Karen L. Bune's full letter to the editor, published December 4, 2009 in The Washington Times, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/04/at-a-loss-over-lost-lives/

Ms. Bune is an Adjunct Professor of Victimology at Marymount University in Arlington, VA

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lakewood Police Independent Guild President Shares Memories of His Four Slain Colleagues

Brian D. Wurts, President of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, penned a touching and fitting tribute to his four fallen friends of the Lakewood, WA, Police Department who were gunned down Sunday morning as they sat in a coffee shop getting ready for their shift.

"I have never cried like I have over the past 16 hours and I hope sharing a couple things about these individuals will bring those citizens we are truly proud to serve closer to us."

  • Sergeant Mark Renninger: "Mark had that spark that made you like him and respect him. He was truly a rock in our department, someone you always counted on. Mark has three kids and a great wife that the toughest cop I knew softly spoke about. Mark is in heaven standing guard at the gate. I know this is true."

  • Officer Tina Griswold: "She was the toughest little cop I have ever known. Tina has two children and a husband who loves her deeply. My gut hurts that I missed your Halloween party this year."
  • Officer Ronald Owens: "Ronnie was my calm down guy, an even keel who was able to put a perspective on things with few words. Ronnie has a beautiful little daughter. We love you brother."

  • Officer Greg Richards: "Greg was a great cop who cared about one thing above all else, his family. He was a proud dad to three kids and wanted nothing more than to spend all of his time off with his wife and kids."
"God bless you Mark, Greg, Tina, and Ronnie boy. We cannot stop crying and we cannot stop hurting right now. WE love you all."

To read the full letter, please visit: http://lpig.us/index.cfm?zone=/unionactive/view_article.cfm&HomeID=145449. To make a donation to the families of the fallen officers through the Lakewood Police Independent Guild, please visit: http://lpig.us/.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Multiple-Fatality Tragedy: Four Officers Gunned Down in Lakewood, WA

In a year in which law enforcement fatalities are down overall, 2009 has been punctuated by intense bursts of violence against our nation's peace officers. The latest, particularly heinous incident occurred just after 8 am on Sunday in Washington state, when a gunman walked into a Pierce County coffee shop and open fired on four officers of the Lakewood Police Department who were going over plans for their upcoming shift. All four officers were killed in what area law enforcement officials are calling an execution. No other customers or employees in the coffee house at the time were injured.

On Sunday night, Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar identified the four slain officers as Sergeant Mark Renninger, age 39, and Officers Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Greg Richards, 42. All four were veteran law enforcement officers, with between 8 and 14 years of experience each, and all four had been members of the Lakewood Police Department since it was founded five years ago in the community outside Tacoma. The officers were the first members of the relatively new police agency to be killed in the performance of duty. And Officer Griswold has the unfortunate distinction of being the first female officer in the United States to be killed this year.

Chief Farrar stated, "This is a very difficult time for our families and our officers. The families will have many challenges ahead of them and we ask that their privacy be respected. Please keep our families and Lakewood Police in your prayers.”

As of Sunday night, the Pierce County (WA) Sheriff's Department was looking for a "person of interest" in the case. He is identified as Maurice Clemmons, 37, a career criminal who was recently released from jail and has extensive criminal history in both Washington state and Arkansas.

Sunday's violent incident was the fourth multiple-fatality shooting of law enforcement officers this year. On March 21, four members of the Oakland (CA) Police Department were fatally shot following a traffic stop and subsequent search. Just two weeks later, on April 4, three Pittsburgh (PA) Police officers were gunned down by a heavily armed extremist wearing a bullet-resistant vest and lying in wait for the officers, who had been called by the gunman's mother for a domstic complaint. And three weeks after that, two Okaloosa County (FL) Sheriff's deputies were murdered while trying to arrest a man wanted in an earlier domestic incident.

The 13 officers shot and killed in these four incidents represent nearly 30 percent of the 44 officers who have been shot and killed so far this year, according to preliminary statistics from the NLEOMF. The preliminary data show that total law enforcement fatalities are down more than 7 percent this year, driven by a dramatic, 23 percent drop in traffic-related fatalities. However, firearms-related deaths are up 19 percent so far this year, and the 11-month total of 44 is already five more than occurred in all of 2008.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund extends our deepest sympathies to the families of the four officers killed today in Lakewood, WA, to Chief Farrar and all the members of the Lakewood Police Department, and to the citizens of Lakewood, who are coping with the loss of four of their dedicated protectors.

Follow continuing news coverage of the tragedy in Lakewood on the websites of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Correction: In addition to the four multiple-fatality shooting incidents reported above, there was a fifth incident this past July 26, in which two Seminole County (OK) Sheriff's deputies were shot and killed while attempting to serve an arrest warrant. Therefore, 15 officers have been killed in multiple-fatality shootings this year, representing more than one-third of the firearms-related deaths this year in the U.S.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Radical Group's Appearance at UMass Sparks Police Outrage

The University of Massachusetts Amherst sparked outrage this week among law enforcement officers from as far away as New Jersey by inviting to campus members of the United Freedom Federation, a radical group that was responsible for anti-government bombings and other violence in the 1970s and 1980s. It was a member of the UFF who shot and killed New Jersey State Trooper Philip Lamonaco during a traffic stop just before Christmas of 1981.

The event, "The Great Western Massachusetts Sedition Trial: Twenty Years Later," was originally canceled by the University, but several professors, citing free speech, rescheduled the colloquium. Raymond Luc Levasseur, who was tried and acquitted of sedition charges in 1989, had been invited to speak, but the U.S. Parole Commission prohibited him from leaving the state of Maine. His ex-wife, Pat Levasseur, attended on his behalf.

On hand to protest her appearance were a few hundred police officers, law enforcement supporters and the family of Trooper Lamonaco -- his wife, Donna, daughter, Sarah, and son, Michael, who is following in his father's footsteps as a New Jersey State Trooper. They were joined by students holding signs decrying Levasseur and honoring the fallen trooper.

The UMass Police department presented the Lamonaco family with a donation of $2,000 to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in honor of Trooper Lamonaco. The donation represented the combined wages earned by the police officers who provided security at the controversial event.

Read more about the protest at http://www.gazettenet.com/2009/11/13/outraged-police-rally-campus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remembering Sam Hicks: FBI Baltimore Field Office Renamed in Honor of Slain Agent

On November 19, 2008, FBI Special Agent Sam Hicks was serving a warrant in Indiana Township, PA, when he was fatally shot by the suspect's wife. Four days after the first anniversary of his death, on November 23, 2009, the FBI will rename the Balitmore Field Office in honor of Agent Hicks. Director Robert Mueller, along with other members of the FBI and Baltimore PD, are expected to attend the ceremony.

Agent Hicks joined the Baltimore City Police Department in 2002 and was hired by the FBI in March 2007. He was transferred to the FBI's Pittsburgh Field Office in August 2007. He is survived by his wife, Brooke, and son, Noah, age 3. This past May, during National Police Week 2009, his name was officially dedicated on Panel 63-E, Line 26 of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

For more information about Special Agent Hicks and the ceremony, please visit: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_652354.html.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Humbling and Emotional Experience: Being in Seattle following the Death of an Officer

By John Shanks
Director of Law Enforcement Relations

This past Sunday, I left Washington, DC, to travel to Seattle, Washington, for two days of meetings with members of the Seattle Police Department. I was scheduled to update them on the Memorial Fund and the National Law Enforcement Museum project, and to seek their support. What I didn’t know at the time was that the previous evening, the Seattle Police Department had suffered a great tragedy: the loss of Officer Timothy Brenton, a highly respected Field Training Officer.

Halfway to Seattle, on lay-over in Phoenix, I received an e-mail from the Chief’s office explaining that the meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon had been canceled and the reasons why. I recall sitting on the plane staring at my Blackberry, not believing what I just read: an officer ambushed and assassinated as he sat in his patrol car. “How can I continue this trip?,” I asked myself. How could I possibly go on to Seattle right now, and not somehow “get in the way” of a department in crisis? My travel had been planned for two months, and I was halfway there. I had to continue on, I realized, but change the focus of my work. There was a much bigger issue here: the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Timothy Brenton.

I started to gather more information about the incident. Officer Brenton, a seasoned law enforcement professional, was parked on the side of the road talking with his trainee, Officer Britt Sweeney. They were reviewing a traffic stop the pair had just conducted. Suddenly, a sedan pulls up next to the patrol car, so close that Officer Sweeney could not open her door. Then the air erupted in gunfire – an ambush. Officer Brenton was hit and died almost immediately in the passenger seat of the patrol car. Officer Sweeney managed to return fire and call for help. A seemingly “routine” night on patrol for a rookie officer and her FTO had suddenly and inexplicably turned into violence and tragedy. One of Seattle’s protectors had been taken.

When I arrived in Seattle I called back to DC and spoke with Craig Floyd, our Chairman and CEO. I updated him on the details of the incident, and Craig, as always, offered sound advice on how I – and “we,” the Memorial Fund – could best support the Seattle Police Department. We agreed this was mainly a time to just “be there” for the Department, its officers and employees, as well as members of the community. I was honored to be invited to briefings on the incident with members of the Department, and I was graciously welcomed by the leadership and rank-and-file officers alike.

I called on the Seattle Police Officers Guild and offered to cancel my presentation, which was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Guild President Rich O’Neill met with me personally and said, “No, now is when we really need to hear from you.” During this crisis, when the city was in a massive manhunt to find the killer (or killers) who had ruthlessly assassinated Officer Timothy Brenton, the Guild still took the time to meet with me, to get a brief update on the Museum, but most of all, to talk about Officer Brenton and how we will always honor and remember him and all of those in law enforcement who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

I never met Officer Timothy Brenton, but being in Seattle and being with Tim’s brothers and sisters on the Police Department was a humbling experience for me. I spent 22 years in law enforcement myself. In Seattle, I felt the pain and grief, and witnessed firsthand the emotions of the many officers I encountered. I am honored to have been welcomed as a member of the Seattle Police family and to have shared with them this intensely difficult and emotional time. Most of all, my visit to Seattle put into sharp perspective just why my colleagues and I at the NLEOMF work so hard at what we do: to respect, honor and remember all of the heroes of American law enforcement.

When the time is right, I will return to Seattle and finish my meetings and conduct the business I had planned for this week. In the meantime, I join the entire law enforcement community in expressing my sincere sympathy and blessings to the family of Officer Timothy Brenton and the men and women of the Seattle Police Department. May you all be safe and watched over as you continue to protect the residents of Seattle.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why Should I Care About a Museum?

By Jim Donahue

It’s tough for everyone these days. Budgets are being cut. Vacant positions aren’t being filled. Some places have even had to layoff cops. Every group, organization, government, and charity seems to have more demands and fewer dollars to cover the needs.

At my house, I’m taking overtime and extra details or side work whenever possible to keep the bills paid. It’s tough right now.

The idea of a national law enforcement museum is really great. But, do we really need to spend money on that right now? How do I explain to my wife that I want to make a contribution to the Museum when money is needed so badly for other things?

First, anyone who is feeling this way can take a deep breath. It’s not how much is contributed by any one of us. If you want to Scotch tape four quarters to a card, stuff it in an envelope and send it off as your donation – that’s fine. If you don’t have an extra four quarters right now, that’s OK too.

Just remember that when you do have an extra buck, it would be welcomed by the NLEOMF to build the Museum. What is important is that we all contribute something, whether it’s cash, an item of memorabilia or our time to help with the project.


Remember the last time you were the target of disrespect from some ill-mannered, snot-nosed, dirtbag-in-the-making kid on the street? You might have been called a name or worse. You were treated like their worst enemy.

Do you remember how that felt? I do.

Maybe, those kinds of incidents would be less frequent if John Q. Public had a better understanding of what we are trying to do to protect them. Just maybe we would find that sharing our story would bring about a better understanding and more support for cops on the beat everywhere.


Answer: museums are places that both memorialize and validate many of America’s truly profound moments in history. They create a tangible history for experiences that can then be shared by those who weren’t there and for future generations.

Museums create a sense of respectability for an event or an organization, if you will. The list of museums is endless. But there are a few that I believe exemplify what I mean:

  • Civil War Museum, Harrisburg, PA

  • World War I Museum, Kansas City, MO

  • World War II Museum, New Orleans, LA

  • U.S. Marines Museum, Triangle, VA

  • U.S. Army Museum, Arlington, VA

  • U.S. Navy Museum, Washington D.C.

  • U.S. Air Force Museum, Dayton, OH

  • Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI

The last entry on the list documents the Industrial Revolution in America. There is currently no national museum for law enforcement. Like the military, our work continues. We are the warriors that protect the homeland. Our Museum and our Memorial will never be finished.

There are thousands and thousands of artifacts from the policing experience scattered around our great nation right now. Most of them are examples of our best moments. A few represent our worst. Collectively, they make up the tapestry that is policing today.

Without a national museum as a focal point of assembly, we risk losing these treasures to history. The Museum will be at the crosshairs of our existence. It will be the living place that constantly changes in order to best tell our story.


There can be no denying that a chasm has developed between cops and certain segments of our population. In some cases, us guys in uniform have done things to make the situation worse. Whether intentional or not, it has happened.

The police cannot effectively police a society that doesn’t want to be policed. Public support is vital to success in our mission.

Creating a national museum is going to help us regain the public support that we once had. Not overnight, for sure. But, it will happen. School kids by the tens of thousands go to Washington D.C. on class field trips every year from around the country.

They can be exposed to our story. They can see first hand what we have done – and continue to do. They can use all of their senses to know more about the experience of being a cop. They can know what we have and will face. They will know that our goal is to protect them.

Those school kids will take pictures with their cell phones and send them off to their friends. They will go home and tell of what they’ve seen. Their attitudes about cops will change – even if only a little – and it will be better.

A few of them will be so touched that they will be led to a career in law enforcement. They will join our ranks and become our brothers and sisters.


Through our words and our deeds, we can have a dramatic impact on how individual members of society treat us. We can make them hate us – forever. We can make them love us – or maybe just stop hating us.

We need every supporter that we can get.

No, sending those four quarters to the Museum probably won’t have any effect on your next shift. But, if we all work together, it just might have an effect on the lives of the young cops who will follow in our footsteps in years to come.

This is a risk worth taking and a cause worth supporting.

Jim Donahue is a native of the Midwest, getting his education at Michigan State University. He is a certified police officer in Florida and veteran police trainer with over twelve years of instructional experience. His training focuses on safe tactics for officers using in-car technology.

During his years in Michigan law enforcement, Jim worked with U.S. Customs & Immigration at the Detroit/Canada border in the year following the attacks of 9/11. He has also worked as a reserve patrolman on the streets of a suburban Detroit community.

Jim has been named an Ambassador for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C.

Jim is a competitive bodybuilder, with six contests to his credit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vice President Biden Honors a Profession that Honors Him

To a standing ovation of law enforcement and government leaders, survivors of fallen officers and other supporters, Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2009 Distinguished Service Award Monday evening from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. And he did so with characteristic humility, humor and honor for the profession that was honoring him.

“I especially appreciate this award because of what you have done, not because of what I may have done,” he said. “Ronald Reagan was right: you are that ‘Thin Blue Line’ and thank God we have you.”

Unlike the NLEOMF’s Officer of the Month Award, which is given each month to a law enforcement professional who displays exemplary service or devotion to duty, the Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to “an individual or organization that has made an exceptional and lasting contribution to the law enforcement profession.” Past awardees have included Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as the Police Unity Tour, DuPont, Motorola and Cynthia Brown, publisher of American Police Beat magazine.

In presenting the award, NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd ticked off just some of the pro-law enforcement legislation Vice President Biden championed during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate:

  • The 1985 ban on armor-piercing, “cop-killer” bullets

  • The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Act, which provided Federal dollars to help purchase body armor for officers

  • The 1994 crime bill that put 100,000 more officers on the street

  • The Violence Against Women Act, which brought down rates of domestic violence and rape, and provided new and meaningful resources to victims

  • Creation of the Congressional Badge of Bravery to honor officers who display exceptional valor

  • And, of course, laws establishing the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the National Law Enforcement Museum.

“For 16 years, he served as chairman or ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He helped craft virtually every major piece of crime legislation enacted during the last two decades,” the NLEOMF Chairman said.

Having suffered the tragic and sudden loss of a loved one himself – just weeks after his 1972 election to the Senate, his wife, Neilia, and their 1-year old daughter, Naomi, were killed in an auto accident – Vice President Biden has always shown great compassion and concern for the surviving family members of the officers who have made the supreme sacrifice. He has attended the funerals and comforted the survivors of the fallen, and he has been especially supportive of the Delaware Chapter of the Concerns of Police Survivors, several of whose members attended the ceremony at the United States Capitol Visitor Center.

Also attending was a “who’s who” of law enforcement and government leaders: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napoletano, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, and Michele Leonhart, Acting Administrator of the DEA. The Vice President paused to remember the three DEA agents who died in a helicopter crash earlier in the day during an anti-drug operation in Afghanistan, praising the DEA for its incredible work at home and abroad. Also on hand were members of Congress, including last year’s award recipient, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The Vice President quipped that he couldn’t understand why his friend from Maryland received the award before he did.

He also singled out the DuPont Company for its work in developing the Kevlar material for bullet-resistant vests, which have been credited with saving more than 3,000 law enforcement lives. “The first obligation we have – whether we’re talking about law enforcement or the military – is to give you everything you need to protect yourselves,” the Vice President said to the law enforcement officers in the auditorium.

And he introduced his two sons who were in attendance: Beau, the attorney general of Delaware, and Hunter, a DC attorney. They had been seriously injured in the same auto accident that took the lives of their mother and sister 37 years ago. The Vice President said he was particularly proud to accept the Distinguished Service Award in front of his sons.

The award itself is quite large, so Craig Floyd asked Colonel Robert Coupe, superintendent of the Delaware State Police, and U.S. Capitol Police Chief Philip Morse to assist in the presentation. Craig noted that those two agencies had played a special role in protecting the Vice President and his family during this nearly four decades of public service.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Race To Remember 2009

On a cold and wet Sunday morning, nearly 600 runners converged upon the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to participate in the 2nd Annual Race to Remember, organized by the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC, and benefitting the NLEOMF. Runners of all ages (under 10 to over 70) and from as far away as New Mexico, Texas, and Ohio completed the 5K course through the heart of the Nation’s Capital.

Before the race, Memorial Fund Chairman -- and race participant -- Craig Floyd thanked the runners, not only for participating in the race, but also for their support of the Memorial and our efforts to build the National Law Enforcement Museum. MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, who participated with her “biggest loser” MPD team, spoke of the importance of remembering and honoring the sacrifice of all the fallen law enforcement officers. She expressed her gratitude for the Memorial, and her desire to see the race grow to over 1,000 runners next year. Joseph Persichini, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office, and about two dozen members of the current 239th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico also ran (Joe finishing with a great time of 22:17).

After the race, awards were presented to the winners in various age categories and to the overall top three male and female competitors. Overall male and race winner Keith Pierce of Cedar Park, TX, finished with an outstanding time of 15:17, beating out Jeremy Lee and Kyle Faerber, both of Ohio, who finished with times of 15:43 and 16:26, respectively. For the women, Brittney Rooks, just 15 years old from Baltimore, MD, came in first with a time of 20:18, followed closely by Monica Soto, 21:12 and Katharine Anderson, 22:30, both from Washington, DC. (Complete race results are available online.)

Special thanks to our generous race sponsors -- the Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee and the Police Federal Credit Union -- and to supporters EAS Myoplex and GOSmart Pocket Pedometers by Omron, along with race partner Run Washington, for tracking all of the times and race results. The race would not have been possible without the efforts of the Fraternal Order of Police DC Lodge #1, Lodge President (and NLEOMF Board member) Marcello Muzatti and MPD Assistant Chief Patrick Burke (who joined his children in running the 5K course). And, of cousse, all of the volunteers who came out to help early on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wreathlaying 2009: Recognizing our Fallen Heroes and the Memorial that Honors Them

For Ginny Hill O’Branovich, Thursday was a day of memories.

Her last words to her husband, Alexandria (VA) Police Corporal Charlie Hill, on March 22, 1989, upon learning he was headed to a hostage situation: “I love you and be safe.” The knock on her door hours later – an Alexandria Police lieutenant and her pastor on the other side.

The groundbreaking of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 1989. The dedication ceremony two years later. The first time she saw Charlie’s name engraved on Panel 61-East, Line 5 of the Memorial. Their two sons, Charlie and Rob, did etchings that day. “I still have them,” she recalled.

Thursday, Ginny joined other survivors of officers killed in the line of duty, along with law enforcement leaders and other supporters, at the Memorial in Washington, DC, for the 18th annual Wreathlaying Ceremony. Commemorating the anniversary of the Memorial’s dedication on October 15, 1991, Wreathlaying pays special tribute to officers from DC, Maryland, Virginia and federal law enforcement who have died in the performance of duty over the past 12 months.

Two of those fallen heroes were special agents with the FBI: Sam Hicks and Paul Sorce. In his remarks, Joe Persichini, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said these two men, like all of the 18,661 officers whose names are inscribed on the Memorial walls, left behind a legacy of courage, compassion and commitment. “They answered the call to duty because they knew no higher calling. It is our solemn responsibility to finish the job they started and always honor and remember them,” he said.

After the short speeches were done, Mrs. Hill O’Branovich and Mr. Persichini joined members of the United States Park Police Honor Guard in placing a wreath at the Memorial’s center medallion. Then, family members, friends and co-workers of the eight officers recognized at the ceremony placed roses there. With tears, hugs and salutes, they paused to remember and reflect on their loved ones.

As the rain picked up again, Park Police Lieutenant Kathy Harasek played Taps, and retired DC Metropolitan Police Officer Chris Jackson offered a bagpipe solo – a poignant conclusion to a ceremony marking 18 years of the nation's monument to law enforcement service and sacrifice.

The following officers and their families were recognized Thursday as symbolic representatives of all fallen officers and law enforcement survivors from across the nation:

  • Second Lieutenant Francis J. Stecco, Fairfax County (VA) Police Department
    End of Watch: October 21, 2008

  • Special Agent Samuel S. Hicks, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    End of Watch: November 19, 2008

  • Special Agent Paul M. Sorce, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    End of Watch: March 9, 2009

  • Police Officer R. Mark Bremer, Frederick City (MD) Police Department
    End of Watch: October 23, 2008

  • Investigator Chadwick A. Carr, Green County (VA) Sheriff’s Office
    End of Watch: June 4, 2009

  • Deputy Sheriff Christopher D. Ray, Southampton County (VA) Sheriff’s Office
    End of Watch: August 29, 2009

  • Border Patrol Agent Cruz McGuire, United States Border Patrol
    End of Watch: May 21, 2009

  • Border Patrol Agent Robert W. Rosas, United States Customs and Border Protection
    End of Watch: July 23, 2009
May these and all fallen officers rest in peace, and may they always be remembered.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Officers: Share Your Stories & Help Build a Museum

Do you have a good law enforcement story to tell? Then Ed Nowicki wants to hear from you.

Mr. Nowicki, part-time police officer in Twin Lakes (WI), law enforcement training expert and author, is looking for submissions for his new book, “American Blue.” It is a compilation of police stories from officers across the nation. All stories -- funny, weird, touching, dramatic -- are welcome for consideration.

In addition to being part of this exciting project, authors will also be helping to build the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, DC. Mr. Nowicki has generously agreed to donate all royalties from “American Blue” to the Museum, set to open in 2013.

To be a part of this project, please email Ed at NCJTC@aol.com. All stories should be submitted as an MS Word file. Please direct all questions to (262) 279-7879, and ask for the "American Blue Writer's Package." If your story is included in “American Blue,” you will receive one complimentary copy of the book upon publication.

In addition to serving as a part-time officer in Twin Lakes, Mr. Nowicki is a nationally recognized use-of-force expert and executive director-emeritus of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). Mr. Nowicki's first book, "True Blue," is out of print after two printings.

Monday, October 12, 2009

California Motor Officers Show Off their Skills, Raise Money for Fallen Officers

Motorcycles have been a part of American law enforcement for more than 100 years. And today, motor officers remain an extremely proud, skilled and generous group, as evidenced by a recent motorcycle rodeo in California.

On October 7, 400 officers from 56 agencies competed in the Orange County Traffic Officer's Associaton's 37th Annual Motor Rodeo "Top Gun of Traffic Officers" contest. Eight cone courses resembling real-life scenarios tested officers' skills and abilities. Officers were automaticly disqualified for placing a foot down while riding or for knocking over a single cone. Deputy Brian Cline of the Riverside Sheriff Department was this year's "Top Gun of Traffic Officers."

The annual event raisies money for officers injured or killed in the line of duty. The proceeds from this year are going to two critically injured police officers and their families in Orange County. In addition, the Orange County Traffic Officer's Association was able to donate $20,000 to the Oakland Police Association for the children of the four Oakland Police officers killed on March 21, 2009: Sergeants Mark Dunakin, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai, and Officer John Hege.

For video and photos please visit, http://www.ocregister.com/articles/officers-event-spernak-2597468-county-ora.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

100 Years Later, an NYPD Legend Is Remembered

One hundred years ago, New York City Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino was assassinated in Palermo, Sicily, where he was investigating the Mano Nera – or Black Hand – organized crime syndicate that had been extorting protection money from business owners and residents in New York’s Little Italy. Lieutenant Petrosino is believed to be the first Italian-American law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, and he remains the only member of the NYPD ever to die in a duty-related incident outside the United States.

On Thursday morning in Washington, DC, under crisp blue skies, Italian government officials joined NLEOMF Board members, staff and supporters at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to remember Lieutenant Petrosino and pay tribute to his service.

NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd described Lieutenant Petrosino as a “tough, hard-working and very effective law enforcement professional” who set out on a mission of crime-fighting and delivered for his community.

“Early on, Joseph Petrosino decided to devote his law enforcement career to fighting these [Mano Nera] extortionists. He convinced his superiors to let him form the ‘Italian Squad,’ and Joseph Petrosino would quickly become the Mano Nera’s worst enemy,” Craig remarked. “His squad made thousands of arrests. The results were dramatic: crime against Italians in New York City was reduced by an astonishing 50 percent.”

In early 1909, Lieutenant Petrosino set out on a secret mission to Sicily to collect evidence that would smash the Black Hand once and for all. On March 12, he planned to meet a man he thought was an informant. Instead, he was greeted by Mano Nera assassins who gunned him down. When his body was returned to New York City, the funeral procession lasted five-and-one-half hours and was attended by a crowd of more than a quarter million people – a richly deserved tribute to a true American hero.

Representing the Region of Sicily was the Honorable Robert Leonardi, Director General for International Affairs. The President of Sicily, Raffaele Lombardo, was originally scheduled to attend the ceremony, along with Columbus Day events in New York City, but horrible flooding that has claimed more than two dozen lives in Sicily required that he stay home.

Dr. Leonardi said that, a century after the death of Lieutenant Petrosino, the fight against organized crime continues to be carried out vigorously on two fronts: in the United States and in Sicily. “For Sicily, fighting organized crime is not just a law enforcement issue, but an economic development issue,” he said. He added that despite serious threats to his own safety, President Lombardo “has pledged himself to the fight against the Mafia.”

At the conclusion of the remarks, Officer Marcello Muzzatti of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC, and the Fraternal Order of Police’s representative on the NLEOMF Board of Directors, joined Dr. Leonardi and two Embassy of Italy officials – Sebastiano Cardi, Deputy Chief of Mission, and Giannicola Sinisi, Counsular – in placing a wreath in memory of Lieutenant Petrosino at the Memorial’s central medallion.

Then, the officials brought the wreath to Panel 56-East, where Lieutenant Petrosino’s name is engraved on Line 7. There, Dr. Leonardi and several other attendees, including members of the Order Sons of Italy in America and the National Italian American Foundation, completed etchings of Lieutenant Petrosino’s name as lasting reminders of his commitment, service and courage.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

At the IACP Conference – October 6, 2009

The NLEOMF concluded another successful IACP Conference today. Foot traffic at our exhibit booth was a little lighter than the past two days, but remained remarkably strong. Staff really enjoyed seeing long-time friends and supporters and meeting so many new people, especially members of the Colorado law enforcement community who had a strong presence throughout the Conference.

Kevin Morison, NLEOMF Senior Director of Communications, attended – or at least tried to attend – a workshop entitled “If You Only Knew What Your Body Language Was Saying.” Presented by well-known body language expert Janine Driver, the session was SRO by 7:45 am – 15 minutes before the official start time. A former ATF agent, Janine has been presenting at IACP Conferences and PIO Section meetings for the past few years, and has been drawing a large and devoted following of law enforcement officials who appreciate her humorous and no-nonsense approach to dissecting their own body language and the messages sent by suspects. Kevin (and others) should remember to get there early for Janine’s presentations next year.

During the Second General Assembly, the IACP and Parade Magazine presented the 2009 Police Officer of the Year Award to Officer Pedro Garcia of the San Antonio (TX) Police Department. Last September, Officer Garcia responded to a shooting scene in which a suspect armed with an AK-47 rifle was firing repeatedly from inside his home, targeting the first officers on the scene. Officer Garcia dodged the hail of gunfire to reach fellow Officer Brandy Roell, a 30-year-old mother of three who had been on the job for just one month and was bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound to the back. Without regard for his own safety, Officer Garcia flung Officer Roell over his shoulder and carried her to a waiting patrol car so she could be airlifted to the hospital, where she underwent life-saving surgery. Typical of a law enforcement officer, Officer Garcia, in accepting the award, said simply, “the true heroes are those who put their lives on the line every day.”

Later in the day, Kevin Morison was interviewed by IACPtv, a video news team that has been gathering stories throughout the conference. Kevin provided an update on line-of-duty deaths in the United States (they’re down 7% this year and are on pace to break a five-decade low) and efforts to build the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum. He reminded chiefs that the U.S. Department of Justice has authorized them to designate a portion of their federal Asset Forfeiture funds to support the Museum project. Chandler (AZ) Police Chief Sherry Kiyler recently directed some of her Asset Forfeiture funds to the Museum, making her the latest chief executive to do. The IACPtv segments are shown at the Convention Center and in many of the host hotels for the IACP conference. They are also posted on the IACP website (Kevin’s segment is expected to be posted soon).

The NLEOMF extends our thanks to the IACP Executive Director Dan Rosenblatt, officers and staff for putting together another extraordinary conference, and to the Denver Police Department and the city of Denver for being such gracious hosts. And special thanks, of course, to all of our friends and supporters who stopped by to thank NLEOMF staff for our work in honoring and remembering America’s law enforcement heroes. We’ll see all of you in Orlando, FL, for IACP 2010, October 23-27, 2010.

At the IACP Conference – October 5, 2009

It was another busy day at the IACP for the Memorial Fund. Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd and other NLEOMF staff started the day at the IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement breakfast. Twenty-five of the most innovative programs in law enforcement worldwide were recognized. Congratulations to all the awardees, especially the three winners: Richmond (VA) Police Department for GRIP – Gang Reduction and Intervention Program; Minneapolis (MN) Police Department for Juvenile Focused Policing: A Collaboration to Reduce Crime; and Ontario (Canada) Provincial Police for Provincial Traffic Safety Program.

The First General Assembly featured speeches by leading federal law enforcement officials. Attorney General Eric Holder opened his remarks by remembering those officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. “Together we have walked the Pathways of Remembrance and silently lighted candles at the [National] Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in honor of your 133 brothers and sisters who lost their lives in the line of duty last year.” The Attorney General was followed by FBI Director Robert Mueller and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who, like Mr. Holder, spoke of the importance of federal-state-local cooperation in protecting both communities and fellow officers.

At the NLEOMF booth (#2607) in the exhibit hall, staff greeted hundreds more conference attendees. A number of chiefs inquired about how they might be able to use some of their federal Asset Forfeiture funds to support the National Law Enforcement Museum. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that the Museum was an allowable use of Asset Forfeiture funds. The NLEOMF recently sent information to chiefs encouraging them to consider devoting some of the funds to the Museum project and to visit the NLEOMF booth to learn more.

Later in the day, NLEOMF staff visited with many of the generous corporate partners who have supported the Memorial Fund and the Museum over the past year. As strong supporters of the law enforcement community in general, the corporations are also exhibiting at the IACP Conference.

Monday, October 5, 2009

At the IACP Conference – October 4, 2009

The 116th Annual Conference and Exposition of the International Association of Chiefs of Police got into full swing today. At 10 am, the exhibit hall at the Colorado Convention Center officially opened. More than 700 companies, government agencies and other organizations are displaying the products and services this year.

Traffic was brisk at the NLEOMF’s booth (#2607). Our 25th Anniversary lapel pins were especially popular. Many people inquired about National Police Week 2010 (it runs from May 9-15) and the status of the National Law Enforcement Museum (groundbreaking scheduled for the fall of 2010 and opening in 2013). And several told poignant stories of their connection to the Memorial and visits they have made there. NLEOMF staff will be greeting conference attendees at the exhibit booth for the next two days.

The Police Executive Research Forum (an NLEOMF Board member organization) held its Town Hall Meeting this afternoon. Moderated by PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler, this free-form discussion touched on a number of topics. NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd gave an update on law enforcement officer fatalities (they’re down again this year, after reaching a near five-decade low in 2008), and he provided an update on the Museum project, reminding the chiefs in attendance that the U.S. Department of Justice has authorized local and state agencies to designated some of their federal asset forfeiture funds to the Museum campaign.

Also that afternoon, NLEOMF Communications Director Kevin Morison and Lynn Lyons-Wynne, Senior Director of Memorial Program, facilitated a training workshop entitled “Is Your Department Making the Most of National Police Week?” They were joined on the panel by Eriks Gabliks, Deputy Director of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, who oversees that state’s law enforcement memorial. The workshop covered National Police Week events and opportunities in Washington, DC, and in local communities. And while it may not have been the largest workshop of the day, it inspired an interesting dialogue on how agencies can work with the NLEOMF to honor their fallen heroes each May.

That night, American Police Beat magazine hosted its annual reception in support of the National Law Enforcement Museum, in conjunction with the Colorado Association of Chief of Police and the Denver Police Department. Gunny R. Lee Ermey, the Marine who went on to star in Full Metal Jacket and other films, fired up the crowd at the historic Baur’s Ristorante on Curtis Street. And emcee Rikki Klieman and Craig Floyd made the case for supporting the Museum campaign. Generous sponsors of the event were Deloitte, Elbeco, Glock, LexisNexis, and Ted Hunt and Associates. Our sincere thanks to all who attended, and especially the people made donations on the spot to help make the Museum a reality.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER Photo Tribute Campaign

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is excited to announce the launch of WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER, our online photo tribute campaign. This campaign encourages Americans to show their support for the men and women of law enforcement, in particular, those who have died in the line of duty.

Over the years, 18,661 names have been engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and they will always be remembered by their families, friends, partners, and communities. WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER is a new and creative way to show your appreciation for these American heroes.

It’s easy to participate in the campaign.
  1. Simply download a WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER sign by visiting http://www.willalwaysremember.org/, then fill in your name and message. Be creative with your sign and picture.

  2. Take your picture holding the sign (or have someone take it for you).

  3. Upload your picture to the website.
Or, if you are already a Flickr user, upload your own photo by joining the WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER group and add your photo to the group photo pool. Make sure to check back to http://www.willalwaysremember.org/ to view others’ pictures and look for yours in the slideshow.

As an added element to this campaign, viewers will be able to cast one vote for their favorite user-submitted picture. The voting period will run during the month of March (March 1-31, 2010).

The person who submits the photo that receives the most votes will win a trip to DC for National Police Week 2010 to attend the Candlelight Vigil. The winner will receive one round-trip airfare to DC and lodging for two nights along with VIP seating at the Vigil. The winning photo will be announced April 5, 2010.

So make your sign and take your picture today. Show your support for the entire law enforcement community and your appreciation for the hard work, dedication, and personal sacrifices our officers make every day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reflections on the New Fort Worth Police & Firefighters Memorial

By Craig W. Floyd
Chairman & CEO

“We do two things very well in Fort Worth,” declared Mayor Mike Moncrief. “When we are proud of something, we take ownership. But, when we’re not proud of something, we take responsibility. We’re not proud that a year ago at this time, we were the largest city in the country without a memorial to honor our fallen. As of today, that is no longer the case.”

More than 1,000 law enforcement officers, firefighters, survivors of the fallen and other dignitaries and citizen supporters, including this writer, joined Mayor Moncrief on June 5, 2009, for the official dedication of the Fort Worth Police & Firefighters Memorial. The $1.2 million monument was funded by private donations and was 20 years in the making. The project suffered a number of fits and starts, but Mayor Moncrief credited his wife, Rosie, for helping him and the Fort Worth Police & Firefighters Memorial Board of Directors (co-chaired by Bob Kolba and John Stevenson) to “move this monument from just a drawing on a piece of paper to a reality.”

The Memorial, one of the largest in the country, sits on five acres in a serene slice of Fort Worth called Trinity Park. It is highlighted by a statue consisting of a saddled riderless horse with boots turned backward in the stirrup, symbolizing a missing comrade, led by a law officer on one side and a firefighter on the other. Behind the statue is a black wall of granite, inscribed with the names of Fort Worth’s 95 public safety officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, including three deputy marshals, 55 police officers and 37 firefighters
Mayor Moncrief described the Memorial as “a place of contemplation . . . a place to mourn . . . a place to honor . . . and a place to rejoice in a life well-lived.”

Read the full article

Originally published in American Police Beat, September 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bulgarian Delegation Visits the Memorial

Top criminal justice officials from the Republic of Bulgaria were in Washington, DC, last week for training and information exchange sessions with their counterparts in the United States. Despite their busy schedule, the Bulgarian officials insisted on including one last stop on their itinerary: a visit to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, led a delegation of seven Bulgarian officials who visited the Memorial late Friday afternoon to pay their respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They were greeted by NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd and a number of NLEOMF staff members.

While law enforcement officer fatalities are much lower in Bulgaria than in the United States, Minister Tsvetanov said it is important for everyone to remember and honor all officers who have died in the line of duty, regardless of where they served.

To show their respect for the 18,661 officers whose names are engraved on the U.S. Memorial, the delegation placed a wreath at the central medallion. The Bulgarian visitors exchanged gifts with Mr. Floyd, and Minister Tsvetanov did a rubbing of the name of Superintendent Fred Morrone of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, one of 72 officers killed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

As they prepared to leave the Memorial, the Bulgarian officials made one last stop: in front of the one of the lion statues for a group photo.

The NLEOMF was proud to welcome the following distinguished officials from the Republic of Bulgaria:

  • Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior

  • Margarita Popova, Minister of Justice

  • Boris Velchev, Chief Prosecutor

  • Tsvetlin Yovchev, Chairman of State Agency for National Security

  • Stanimir Florov, Director of Combating Organized Crime Directorate, Ministry of Interior

  • Ivan Anchev, First Secretary, Embassy of Bulgaria

  • Tihomir Stoytchev, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Bulgaria

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Only 59% of Police Agencies Require Officers to Wear Body Armor: PERF Study

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) is out with a new study on police use of body armor, and its findings are important reading for law enforcement officers, trainers and executives.

PERF, a Washington, D.C.-based police research and consulting organization, reports that nearly all law enforcement agencies say they provide body armor to their officers, but only 59 percent of the agencies actually require their officers to wear body armor at least some of the time.

The report details the findings of a survey that PERF conducted in partnership with the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The survey was sent to a large nationally representative sample of law enforcement agencies. Of all those who received the survey, 80 percent responded, for a total of 782 participating agencies.

Perhaps the research team’s most encouraging finding is that almost all agencies responding to the survey—99 percent—ensure that body armor is made available to their officers. Previous research indicated that in 1987, only 28 percent of police agencies surveyed provided body armor or a cash allowance to purchase armor for all of their uniformed patrol officers. By 1993, that figure had climbed to about 82 percent, and it rose to more than 90 percent in 2000.

While the new survey indicates that body armor is now available to almost all officers, the PERF report suggests that police agencies can make further improvements in their policies and practices to help ensure that officers actually use body armor as much as possible, and to provide more thorough controls on fitting of armor to individual officers, maintenance of the armor, and periodic inspections to ensure that officers' armor is in good condition.

For the full report visit http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/pdf/PERF_BodyArmor.pdf.

PERF is a membership organization of police executives from the largest city, county and state law enforcement agencies, and is one of 16 organizations represented on the Board of Directors of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. NLEOMF data on officers killed in the line of duty were used in the PERF study.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

37% More Cops Died... by Jim Donahue

A Staggering Jump in Vehicle Related Losses

Process Problem Solving Contributor for Officer.com. Article originally published on Tuesday, September 15, 2009.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington D.C., the numbers this year are staggering. The mid-year report shows that as of June 30, 2009, 26 cops have died in automobile crashes. That compares with 19 cops at the same point last year. This is 37% more deaths.

Focus on that number: 37%

Now, let's make it human. At mid-year, 7 more cops have died in crashes than at the same time last year. This year, there have been:

7 more flag-draped coffins

7 more pipers playing Amazing Grace at a graveside

7 more families grieving the loss of their husband, father, brother, son, wife, mother, sister or daughter

7 more cop families of co-workers who are dealing with a tragedy they did not earn or deserve

7 more names to be read at the Final Roll Call at next year's Candlelight Vigil

7 more cops who gave everything


That is the question of eternal discussion. There has been much speculation about the fact that vehicle related incidents have been the leading cause of officer deaths for the last twelve years. Other causes of death have declined while these continue to rise.

We spend countless hours training in fighting and surviving assaults. We learn how to grapple, face a blade, use the Taser and fight with our deadly force weaponry. But the numbers are clear: cops are far less likely to die in an assault than they are a car wreck.

Where is the training to prevent that?

How many agencies routinely provide EVOC training to their existing crew? The answer (unfortunately) is very few. It is expensive. It chews up otherwise good vehicles. It often requires overtime, which few of today's law enforcement budgets can afford.

Yet, this is the where and how cops - our brothers and sisters - are dying on the street.

If we fail to act, then to some extent, we have become complicit. We standby while watching our young people - our most precious treasure - get routinely slaughtered.

The full article can be found at http://www.officer.com/web/online/Technology/37-percent-More-Cops-Died/20$48393.

Jim is an Ambassador for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Special Tribute from Irving, TX: Remembering the Sacrifice of Three Fallen Officers

Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the NLEOMF, recently received a letter and special gift from Officer Stephen W. Burres, III of the Irving (TX) Police Department concerning the department's efforts to honor three of their fallen colleagues by supporting the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Dear Mr. Floyd,

My name is Stephen Burres, and I am a police officer for the City of Irving, Texas. I am currently assigned to the Traffic Division, specifically the DWI Unit. I am also a very active member of our Honor Guard, an avid supporter of the NLEOM, and have had the privilege of performing the honor watch at the NLEOM in Washington, D.C., for one of our fallen officers, Officer Andrew Esparza.

Irving is situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, and is a city of over 250,000 residents. We are also home of the Dallas Cowboys football team and headquarters to several other corporations such as MADD, Zales, and Exxon/Mobil. Our old patch, which is enclosed, was the only patch in the U.S. with a sports franchise logo on it.

In the history of the Irving Police Department, we have suffered the devastating loss of three of our brightest officers: Officer Glenn Homs (7/3/1993), Officer Aubrey Hawkins (12/24/2000), and Officer Andrew Esparza (4/13/2007). Officer Homs was struck and killed by a drunk driver while assisting a motorist who struck a cow that was on the highway; Officer Hawkins was shot and killed by the Texas 7 after they escaped from prison; and Officer Esparza was killed in a patrol car accident while going to assist another officer. These three men paid the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens they served and their chosen profession and should never be forgotten. Thank you for honoring all of America’s fallen law enforcement officers.

Each year the Irving Police Departments’ DWI Unit sells t-shirts with Officer Homs' badge on the front, and we donate our entire profits to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Victims’ Assistance at the annual “Walk Like MADD” 5K walk.

Officer Esparza’s brother is still currently assigned to our tactical team, and he and his family have set up the Andrew Esparza college fund. They have created a t-shirt with Andrew’s badge on the front, and the profits go to support the college fund.

For the past several years we have not had a charity or organization that we thought would be suitable enough to donate money in memory of Officer Hawkins. This year, the Irving Police Department created a new t-shirt design that has our new patch on the front and the badges of the three fallen officers on the back, along with one of the quotes that is written on the Memorial wall. Texas currently holds Texas Police Week on odd numbered years, and our Honor Guard recently participated in the Police Week events in Austin, Texas, back in May 2009. Officer Esparza’s name was added to the Texas Peace Officers’ Memorial that is located behind the state capitol. This was our t-shirt design for that event, and we will be creating new shirts for Texas Police Week biannually, with all profits going to the NLEOM in Washington, D.C.

Needless to say, our t-shirt sales were a huge success. Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $2,500 that the members of the Irving Police Department would like to donate to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in memory of all three officers. We hope that the Memorial can put this money to good use to continue the great job that you are doing. We look forward to making this a biannual event.

If there is ever anything that the Irving Police Department can do for you or the NLEOM, please do not hesitate to ask. Again, thank you for your dedication to honor all of America’s fallen officers.


Stephen W. Burres, III #839
Police Officer, Irving Police Department

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund extends our sincere gratitude to Officer Burres, his colleagues at the Irving Police Department, and the families, friends, and other survivors of Officers Glenn Homs, Aubrey Hawkins, and Andrew Esparza for their wonderful support.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On the 8th Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks, the Law Enforcement Heroes of 9/11 Are Remembered

Leonard W. Hatton … Ronald P. Bucca … John G. Coughlin … Michael Curtin … John D’Allara … Vincent G. Danz … Jerome M. Dominguez … Stephen P. Driscoll ... Mark Ellis … Robert Fazio … Rodney C. Gillis … Ronald Kloepfer

It remains the deadliest day in U.S. law enforcement history: 72 peace officers killed in the line of duty during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Seventy-one of those officers died at the World Trade Center. One officer—Richard Guadagno, a sworn refuge manager with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—was among the passengers who died in Pennsylvania while fighting to regain control of Flight 93 from the terrorists.

Thomas Langone … James Leahy … Brian G. McDonnell … John William Perry … Glen Pettit … Claude Richards … Timothy Roy … Moira Smith … Ramon Suarez … Paul Talty … Santos Valentin Jr. … Joseph Vincent Vigiano

Thirty-seven members of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Force were killed on 9/11, by far the most fatalities suffered by a single law enforcement agency in one day in U.S. history. Among those heroes was the agency’s Superintendent, Fred Morrone. He was in his office in Jersey City on the morning of September 11th when the hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center. As head of the force, he certainly could have set up a command post at a safe distance from the action from which to direct the rescue effort. But that wasn’t Fred Morrone. Instead, he rushed to lower Manhattan and raced up the stairs of one of the burning towers, reassuring terrified victims coming down that they would be OK. When the tower collapsed, Fred Morrone’s distinguished, 38-year career of helping others came to an end.

Walter Weaver … Thomas E. Jurgens … William Harry Thompson … Mitchel Scott Wallace … Clyde Frazier Jr. … Charles M. Mills … Richard R. Moore … Salvatore Papasso … William H. Pohlmann … Christopher C. Amoroso … Maurice Vincent Barry … Liam Callahan

On Friday morning – the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder joined NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd, along with Board members and staff, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to honor and remember the 72 officers who died on 9/11 and whose names are engraved on the Memorial. “For me, as it is for so many Americans, today is also personal,” said the Attorney General. “My brother William is a retired Port Authority police officer. He knew people who died that day. And my family and I will always be reminded of the courage his colleagues demonstrated, and the price so many of them paid in service to their country.” (Read Attorney General Holder's prepared remarks.) Under steady rain and with flags at half staff behind him, the Attorney General began the reading aloud of the names of the 72 fallen officers. He then helped to place a wreath and commemorative poster along the Memorial’s west wall, where those names are engraved. He paused and reflected, and tenderly touched the wreath.

Robert D. Cirri Sr. … Clinton Davis Sr. … Donald A. Foreman … Gregg John Froehner … Thomas Edward Gorman … Uhuru Gonja Houston … George G. Howard … Stephen Huczko Jr. … Anthony P. Infante Jr. … Paul W. Jurgens … Robert M. Kaulfers … Paul Laszczynski

In general, names are added each year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in random order. But in the spring of 2002, when it came time to engrave the names of the fallen officers from 2001, the NLEOMF decided to make an exception. The 72 heroes of 9/11 would be engraved together, in a continuous string along Line 23 of the Memorial’s west wall. It took 14 panels – 9-West through 22-West – to accommodate all of the names.

David P. Lemagne … John J. Lennon … J.D. Levi … James F. Lynch … Kathy N. Mazza … Donald J. McIntyre … Walter Arthur McNeil … Fred V. Morrone … Joseph M. Navas ... James A. Nelson … Alfonse J. Niedermeyer III … James W. Parham

9/11 was a heroic, yet deadly, day for many law enforcement agencies – local, state and federal. In addition to the 37 fallen heroes of the Port Authority Police Force, the New York City Police Department lost 23 members; the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance, five; and the New York State Office of Court Administration, three. The FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lost one member each. And a New York City fire marshal who had sworn law enforcement powers perished at Ground Zero and is among the 72 law enforcement heroes who died that day.

Dominick Pezzulo … Bruce A. Reynolds … Antonio Jose Rodrigues … Richard Rodriguez … James A. Romito … John P. Skala … Walwyn W. Stuart Jr. … Kenneth F. Tietjen … Nathaniel Webb … Michael T. Wholey … Richard Jerry Guadagno … Craig James Miller

Craig Floyd reflected on his journey to Ground Zero just days after the attacks and recalled the tremendous outpouring of support for law enforcement that he witnessed that day. He reminded everyone that while 9/11 was an extreme example of law enforcement service and sacrifice, it was not the only example by any stretch of the imagination. “Law enforcement officers were putting their lives on the line for the safety and protection of others long before Nine Eleven, and they continue to do so today in communities across America.” (Read Craig's reflections on 9/11.)