Engraving the names onto the Memorial is a process that starts long before Engraving Day in April and the Candlelight Vigil in May. There are records to collect, reports to read, and an intricate process of review and approval, spell checks and placement checks that make up many months of activities for the NLEOMF's Research Department.
With about two months to go until National Police Week, the Research Department made it to a crucial point for this year's names engraving - they tested the proof of the names by laying them out on the Memorial walls, and made final changes to the placement.
As Ms. Bernie Spence, Director of Research, led her team to the Memorial on E Street, the sun was bright and all remnants of the winter storm that hit the East Coast just four days previously were nowhere in sight. It was a beautiful, peaceful day that somehow fit perfectly the seriousness with which they took on their project. Research team members Carolie Heyliger, Jeremy Borrego and Jackie Piccigallo placed the names and arranged them until they fit perfectly, as Bernie took careful record of any changes they made.
"It's a very important and detailed process," Bernie said. "We collect names and data forms on officer deaths as they occur throughout the year, and look for historical deaths that we may have missed. We gather support documentation such as medical records, newspaper articles and official reports, and review it all with the Memorial Fund's Names Committee for final approvals."
After several meetings with the Names Committee, Bernie said, they finalize a completed list of the names that will be engraved and honored during National Police Week, and from there they double and triple check spellings and placement on the walls.
"Once we carve an officer's name in stone, we can never change it, so we want to make sure we get everything exactly right," Bernie said. "It's important to us that we give this gift to the officers' loved ones. It's a gift of history and remembrance - a gift that will last forever."