Thursday, May 20, 2010

In East Arkansas, Another Cluster Killing

Just days after the nation paused to remember law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty during 2009 – 15 of them in brutal cluster killings – the law enforcement community is mourning another multiple fatality shooting.

Shortly before noon on Thursday, May 20, West Memphis (AR) Police Officer Brandon Paudert, son of the city's police chief, Bob Paudert, and Officer Bill Evans were gunned down after they stopped a minivan with Ohio license plates on I-40. About an hour later, the gunmen were cornered and killed in a parking lot shootout that also wounded Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and Chief W.A. Wren, head of enforcement in the sheriff’s department.

Thursday’s murders continued a troubling trend of cluster killings – instances in which two or more officers are gunned down by the same shooter. Last year, cluster killings claimed four officers each in Oakland (CA) and Lakewood (WA), three officers in Pittsburgh (PA), and two officers each in Seminole County (OK) and Okaloosa County (FL). These 15 officers were among 116 killed in the line of duty in 2009. Their names were engraved and then formally dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial during the 22nd Annual Candlelight Vigil a week ago, on May 13.

Officers Paudert and Evans are just the second and third West Memphis Police officers to be killed in the line of duty in the department’s history. The first was Officer Michael Waters who died in an automobile accident on September 11, 2003, during a pursuit of armed robbery suspects. “From an emotional standpoint of all law enforcement, this breaks the heart of every agency around,” Memphis (TN) Police Director Larry Godwin told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I’ve known Chief Paudert for 36 years. It’s unbelievable the hurt and pain this has caused his family.”

Added Arkansas State Representative Keith Ingram of West Memphis: "I guess you thank God that we’ve got police officers that put their lives on the line for citizens.”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Salute to Law Enforcement at the Monster Mile

At the close of National Police Week, over 900 law enforcement supporters attended the 2nd Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at Dover International Speedway, honoring all of America's law enforcement heroes and supporting the work of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Event goers were treated to trackside tours, performances by bagpipers, and a Q&A appearance by driver Greg Biffle of the No. 16 3M car. Then, they headed to the grandstands to take in the Autism Speaks 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

In the pre-race ceremony at the track, Mark Rossi, Vice President of Marketing for Dover Motorsports, presented the Memorial Fund with a check for $21,500 based on proceeds from a special promotion offered to members of the law enforcement community for the race. An additional $10,000 was raised through the sale of special race t-shirt, which are still available from the NLEOMF.

Joining NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd on stage to accept the check were survivors Kim Renninger and Jim Syler, the wife and partner of Lakewood (WA) Police Sergeant Mark Renninger, who was murdered along with three of his co-workers on November 29, 2009. Race fans were asked to observe a moment of silence for all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, immediately followed by "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.

Sergeant Renninger was a huge NASCAR fan -- in particular, a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Prior to the race, Dale Jr. greeted Kim and Officer Syler trackside, a special honor for a fallen hero who loved NASCAR racing.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

29th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service

To commemorate National Peace Officers Memorial Day, thousands of law enforcement officers and citizen supporters from across the country gathered on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to pay solemn tribute to those officers killed in the line of duty last year and the loved ones they left behind.

In brief remarks to open the ceremony, President Barack Obama offered condolences to the survivors and thanks to the officers still serving. Reflecting on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s lions as symbols of law enforcement, the President said:

It is an honor roll engraved in stone not far from here, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Guarding over the park – and the memories of Americans memorialized there – are four bronze lions. Beneath one is a verse from the Book of Proverbs I impart to you as a prayer: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” May God’s face shine upon the lions that we have lost. May He watch over the ones that guard us still. And may He bless, now and forever, the United States of America.
Following his remarks, President Obama was escorted to the Memorial Wreath by Chuck Canterbury, President of the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, and Beverly Crump, President of the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary. There, the President inserted a flower, the first of many that would be placed in the wreath by the surviving family members of each of the 123 officers remembered during today’s service.

A Special Flag of Honor Escorts a Special Wreath of Honor

The devastation of the 9-11 terrorist attacks spawned a number of special tributes to those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day. For the law enforcement community, one of those tributes is the U.S. Honor Flag. On Saturday, Peace Officers Memorial Day in the nation’s capital, the U.S. Honor Flag was front and center once again.

Shortly after 9/11, the Texas House of Representatives gave the flag that was flying over the state capitol that day to businessman Chris Heisler. With the flag in tow, Heisler headed to Ground Zero, picking up numerous tokens of support along the way. After the flag flew over Ground Zero for a period of time, Heisler decided it should continue to fly in honor of America’s fallen heroes.

Since then, the U.S. Honor Flag has criss-crossed the country and traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been present at more than 1,000 funerals and memorial services for law enforcement officers, firefighters and soldiers killed in the line of duty. In 2009, for example, the flag went to Pittsburgh after three officers were gunned down in April, and it is soon heading to the Pacific Northwest to honor the seven Washington state officers killed in the line of duty in late 2009.

For Peace Officers Memorial Day, the U.S. Honor Flag was brought into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Saturday afternoon by the Miami-Dade (FL) Police Department Honor Guard, escorting the Memorial Wreath from the service at the U.S. Capitol. That wreath is filled with flowers placed by the survivors of officers killed in 2009. The wreath remains at the Memorial and is watched over by honor guard units from across the country until midnight.

For the U.S. Honor Flag, the Memorial was one more special stop for one very special tribute to American law enforcement.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Undeterred by Rain, Bagpipers Honor Those who Have Fallen

Bagpipers are hearty souls. For proof of that, one need look no further than this evening's 16th Annual Emerald Society & Pipeband March and Service at the Memorial.

After processing six blocks up E Street, NW, and into the Memorial, pipebands from across the country proudly formed around the Center Medallion ... only to have the skies open with a burst of rain. But that was only a temporary delay in what has become one of the most colorful and boisterous events of National Police Week.

Bagpipes trace their toots to the Middle East several centuries before the birth of Christ. But it was in Ireland and Scotland that the instrument became popular, used to signal a death and escort the fallen to the final resting place. Their strong association with law enforcement in the United States developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Irish-Americans stepped forward and began to fill the growing ranks of our law enforcement agencies. One of the enduring traditions they brought with them was bagpipe music.

On Thursday at the Memorial, through music and fellowship, hundreds remembered all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, in particular our brothers and sisters of Gaelic descent. And as the ceremony was coming to an end, the skies darkened and an even harder, driving rain pelted the Memorial. But the pipebands and their honor guard escorts ceremoniously filed out of the Memorial as they came in -- loud and proud and determined to play and march to the very end, paying special honor to the fallen as only they can.

Bagpipers are hearty -- and honorable -- souls indeed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Images from the 2010 Candlelight Vigil

The names of 324 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty — 116 of them during 2009 — were formally dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Thursday evening in Washington, DC during the 22nd Annual Candlelight Vigil.

The full news release is available at

At the Candlelight Vigil: May 13, 2010

7:55 pm
The last few buses have dropped off survivors at the Memorial. The Memorial grounds are packed, with an overflow crowd filling E Street and the courhouse plaza across the street. The Vigil is about to begin.

7:25 pm
The risers set aside for the news media are completely full. Crews from CNN, NBC Network News, as well as media representatives from Seattle, Tampa (FL), Pittsburgh, the San Francisco Bay Area and, of course, DC are here to cover this national ceremony to honor America's law enforcement heroes.

7:00 pm
Buses carrying survivors of the fallen officers continue to roll up E Street to the Memorial. Lining the Reflecting Pool are lines of crisply dressed officers from across the country. As survivors depart the buses they are greeted by an officer, given a rose and escorted to their seats, front and center in the central pavillion in front of the stage.

6:30 pm
Prior to being elected to Congress six years ago, Dave Reichart spent three decades in law enforcement with the Pierce County (WA) Sheriff's Office, becoming elected sheriff in 1997. This evening at the Memorial, he stopped to greet officers and family members from the Seattle area. Washington state lost seven officers in the line of duty during 2009, the third highest among the states. One of those officers was Pierce County Deputy Walter Kent Mundell Jr., who had the unfortunate distinction of being the last officer to die in the line of duty in 2009.

Thank You, USA Today, for Honoring our Fallen Heroes

When it comes to honoring the memory of our nation’s fallen law enforcement heroes, the Gannett Co. gets it.

For the second year in a row, the company’s flagship newspaper, USA Today, has donated a quarter-page ad paying tribute to officers killed in the line of duty.

The ad, which appears on page 3D of today's edition (May 13), lists the names of all 116 officers who died in law enforcement service during 2009. And it reminds the family members, loved ones and colleagues of the fallen that a grateful nation will always remember these brave men and women.

Thank you, Gannett and USA Today, for honoring our heroes during National Police Week.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Police Unity Tour Rides Triumphantly into DC

They came two-by-two, a seemingly endless line of blue-and-white clad bicyclists, riding into the heart of Washington, DC, Wednesday afternoon. More than 1,000 members of the Police Unity Tour, exhausted yet triumphant, rode into the grounds of the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial to a hero’s welcome. Each had just completed a grueling 300-plus mile journey from starting points in New Jersey and Virginia, all in honor of America’s fallen law enforcement officers.

The Police Unity Tour started 14 years ago as a somewhat rag-tag group of 18 police officers from northern New Jersey who wanted to do something to remember our fallen heroes. Today, the Unity Tour has grown into nothing short of a national movement, with riders from California, Washington state, Texas, Florida, Vermont and myriad points in between.

Their motto: “We Ride for Those Who Died.” And their mission is twofold: to raise awareness of officers killed in the line of duty, and to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and our programs to honor those who have died in law enforcement service.

At the conclusion of today’s welcoming ceremony at the Memorial, Police Unity Tour Founder and CEO Pat Montuore, chief of the Florham Park (NJ) Police Department, and Executive Director Harry Phillips presented the Memorial Fund with a check for $1.1 million. A beaming Craig Floyd, NLEOMF Chairman and CEO, accepted the check, noting that the Unity Tour has now contributed more than $8 million to the Memorial Fund—the largest of the organization’s donors.

This year’s donation will be used for a very special project: a major restoration of the Memorial grounds, including the re-engraving of all 18,983 names on the monument’s two walls. Almost 20 years after its dedication, the Memorial – and the names – are showing signs of wear and tear. But thanks to the hard work and generosity of hundreds of dedicated Police Unity Tour members – law enforcement officers and survivors – those names will be restored to their original strength and grandeur later this year.

Stories of the Police Unity Tour

The leadership of the Police Unity Tour has always stressed the word “unity” in the organization’s name. Every rider wears the same uniform. Every one has the same minimum fundraising goal ($1,700 per rider). And every participant chooses a fallen officer that he or she rides in honor of. But within that united front of law enforcement honor and fellowship are literally hundreds of stories of individual courage and compassion. Here are just a few of them.

Trooper Dean Kerklo, Pennsylvania State Police

In September 1999, Trooper Kerklo was shot in the chin when he intervened in a domestic violence dispute. The bullet lodged in the sixth vertebra of his spine, leaving him partially paralyzed. His family and colleagues were concerned that he might not live, let alone walk again and return to the job he loved. But after hundreds of hours of hard work and rehabilitation, he did walk again and he did return to the PA State Police. In December 2001, he was one of 11,500 people to carry the Olympic Torch on its way to Salt Lake City. This year, he decided to get on his bike and join the Police Unity Tour. He rode in honor of Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo – the three Pittsburgh Police officers gunned down in April 2009 – and also his 14-year-old daughter, Carlie, who, sadly, passed away last year from a heart ailment. “She fought and pushed so hard throughout her life. She is one of the reasons that I am not feeling sorry for myself,” Trooper Kerklo said.

Michelle Canfield

Last year at National Police Week, Michelle was a first-year survivor. Her husband, Deputy Larry Canfield of the Sacramento County (CA) Sheriff’s Office, was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 2008. Larry was the one who always organized northern California motorcycle cops to come to DC for National Police Week. Last year, dozens of Larry’s colleagues and Michelle were here to honor him. This year, Michelle is back in DC riding in memory of her husband and all of the dedicated motorcycle officers who have fallen in the line of duty.

Toshi Kempkes

Toshi is the big sister of Sergeant Daniel Sakai, one of four Oakland (CA) Police officers shot and killed by the same gunman on March 21, 2009. Toshi eulogized him so eloquently last March: “My brother was one cool dude. His work wasn’t ‘work’ to him, because he loved it so much. He was a man amongst men, the best of the best.” Now, she has honored her brother by riding in the Police Unity Tour for the first time. Oakland has always had a major presence in the Unity Tour, this year especially so with the sudden, violent deaths of Sergeants Mark Dunakin, Ervin Romans II and Daniel Sakai, and Officer John Hege. Twenty-four riders and 25 support personnel, many of them on motorcycles, make the journey from Jersey City (NJ) to the Memorial.

Lakewood (WA) Police Department

Like Oakland, the Lakewood (WA) Police Department experienced the execution of four of its officers in 2009. Sergeant Mark Renninger and Officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens II and Gregory Richards were gunned down in a local coffee shop, as the officers prepared for their shift on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Members of the Lakewood department had never heard of the Police Unity Tour before early January, when an Oakland police officer called and mentioned the ride. That called inspired four members of the Lakewood Police Department – Sergeants Mark Eakes and John Fraser, and Officers Michelle Hector and Charles Porche – to take part in this year’s ride. The officers felt it was important to have four riders, one for each of their fallen colleagues.

Sergeant Cade Veigel, North Salt Lake City (UT) Police Department

Sergeant Veigel attended National Police Week 2009 in support of Katy Skinner, the wife of fellow North Salt Lake Officer Charles Skinner, who died in the line of duty on November 8, 2008. Sergeant Veigel and Katy attended the 2009 Police Unity Tour arrival ceremony. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Sergeant Veigel observed an officer from Goodyear (AZ) walk over and greet Katy. That officer, who Katy had never met or talked to before, had just finished his four-day journey riding in honor of her husband. Katy said she was so overwhelmed at the time that someone would take several days out of his life to honor a fellow officer he didn’t know, that she was speechless. So she just decided to give him a hug. Witnessing that exchange inspired Sergeant Veigel to join this year’s Unity Tour. He rode in honor Sergeant Jeffrey Shaw, of the Kosciusko County (IN) Sheriff’s Office, who died in 2009. Sergeant Veigel said he chose Sergeant Shaw because he died under similar circumstances and at about the same time of year as his friend Charlie Skinner.

Carol Sakofsky

Carol has been a member of the Police Unity Tour for seven years. In fact, she was one of the first law enforcement survivors to ride in the tour. Each year, she rides in honor of her son, Military Police Officer James T. Sakofsky, of the United States Army, died in the line of duty on June 1, 2001. For a number of reasons, Carol had to miss last year’s ride, but she was back for 2010. She continues to provide leadership and support to other survivors who want to honor their loved ones by riding a bicycle 300-plus miles over several days.

Paul DiNardo

Detective MarcAnthony DiNardo, of the Jersey City (NJ) Police Department had planned ride in this year’s Unity Tour, joining the long tradition of Jersey City cops in the ride. He had gotten a bicycle and begun training. But Detective DiNardo was tragically gunned last July in a shootout with armed robbery suspects. He was described as a “cop’s cop,” always ready to jump in – sometimes literally – when people needed help. Just one month before his death, Detective DiNardo and fellow members of the Emergency Services Unit rescued a woman who had jumped from the Wittpenn Bridge into the Hackensack River. To honor his brother and fulfill his desire to take part in this year’s Police Unity Tour, Paul DiNardo, MarcAnthony’s brother, rode instead. This year’s send-off ceremony took place in their hometown of Jersey City.

Monday, May 10, 2010

DC Region’s Fallen Heroes Are Remembered

In terms of law enforcement fatalities, the Washington, DC, region was fortunate last year: it did not lose any officers in the line of duty during 2009. Even so, dozens of people gathered at the Washington Area Law Enforcement Memorial Fountain outside DC Metropolitan Police Headquarters on Monday to remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in years past. A longstanding tradition of National Police Week, the 31st Annual DC Area Memorial Service and Dedication is organized by the Metropolitan Police Department, the Fraternal Order of Police DC Lodge #1, and the DC Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).

In addition to welcoming remarks by Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, attendees heard from Alonzo Pena, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He announced that later Monday, ICE was dedicating an agency memorial to its agents who have been killed in the line of duty. Sixteen agents from ICE and its predecessor agencies are remembered on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Following the speeches, Terrica Gibson, President of DC C.O.P.S., solemnly recited the names of all of the region’s fallen heroes over the past 31 years—a grand total of 93 officers representing 27 different agencies. As she did, a column of law enforcement officers, survivors and supporters walked to the fountain to place a flower. Officers paused to salute, while DC’s Ballou High School Choir sang Gospel hymns in the background.

The 16th name on the list—Brian T. Gibson—carried special meaning for Terrica and her mother, Shirley, who was also in attendance. Brian Gibson was a DC Metropolitan Police officer who was ambushed in his patrol cruiser in February 1997 and shot dead by a man who had set out to kill a cop … any cop. Brian was also Terrica’s brother, Shirley's son.

Footnote: Regrettably, last year’s encouraging news on law enforcement fatalities in the DC region has not continued into 2010. So far this year, two officers in the region have died in automobile accidents: Prince George’s County Police Corporal Thomas Jensen and Montgomery County Police Sergeant Hector Ayala.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

LawRide 2010: 15 Years of Riding to Honor the Fallen

Jonathan Nash really loved two things: being a police officer and riding motorcycles. So when the opportunity arose last September to help escort the remembrance ride for a fellow member of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Corporal Nash stepped forward.

Trooper Hardy Godbold was killed by a drunk driver in an on-duty automobile accident in February 1992, and his friends and colleagues organized a memorial charity ride for September 19, 2009. Corporal Nash was on his department motorcycle leading the procession northbound, when a southbound vehicle made a left turn in front of him. Corporal Nash, a 15-year veteran of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, was struck and dragged across an intersection. The 41-year-old father of one was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

Corporal Nash was one of three officers killed in the line of duty in motorcycle accidents in 2009. There are now some 1,249 motorcycle officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice throughout our nation’s history and whose names grace the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. On Sunday, May 9, these heroes—and all law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice—were remembered during the 15th Annual LawRide. The event traditionally kicks off the National Police Week observance in the nation’s capital.

With the morning chill still in the air, hundreds of law enforcement officers and other supporters—many of them members of various chapters of the Blue Knights—gathered in a parking lot at RFK Stadium in Northeast DC. At approximately 11 am, they started the solemn, three-mile journey down East Capitol Street, around the U.S. Capitol building, and to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. There, they held a brief ceremony and laid wreaths in honor of all the fallen heroes of American law enforcement, including Corporal Nash and Trooper Godbold.

As usual, it was a poignant start to National Police Week 2010.

Upcoming on the National Police Week Schedule

  • Monday, May 10: 31st Annual DC Area Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service, organized by the Fraternal Order of Police DC Lodge #1 Auxiliary. Begins at 11 AM at the Metropolitan Police Department Memorial Fountain, 300 Indiana Avenue, NW.

For more information about National Police Week 2010, including a complete schedule of events, visit

Saturday, May 8, 2010

National Police Week, A Badge of Honor

By Mike Maiorana

On any given night, American television sets are fixed firmly on police dramas from Law & Order to CSI to NCIS. And while the public is endlessly fascinated by the lives of the men and women in blue, Hollywood can't begin to tell this very human story.

As the son of a police officer, I feel a special affinity for our country's greatest heroes -- those who serve in law enforcement. I lost my father when I was only 9 years old. And, while he was not one of the thousands of our country's officers killed in the line of duty (he lost his life to a battle with cancer), he served proudly every day. As a child, I saw a man who was committed to serving and that commitment guides my choices every day. Since his death 33 years ago, I've worked in many jobs in corporate America, married and become a father myself, but I've never stopped thinking of myself as the son of a police officer.

This month, we'll commemorate National Police Week, and while this nationwide remembrance is not as well known as Mother's Day or Father's Day, for children of fallen officers, it's more important. It's the one time all year when we gather to express our thanks for those officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to salute those who currently protect us, our communities and our country.

For the last two decades, I've worked for Verizon Wireless, and my career has provided me with many rewarding moments and milestones. Ranked high among these achievements are the partnerships my company has forged with law enforcement officers.

Recently, the Verizon Foundation delivered the final installment of a $1.5 million contribution to the new National Law Enforcement Museum, scheduled to break ground this October in Washington, DC. The contribution will fund innovative education and technology programs, including one that focuses on the need for increased respect, trust and confidence between law enforcement, domestic violence survivors, their families and the general

Domestic violence is an issue of tremendous importance to the 83,000 employees of Verizon Wireless. Since 2001, our company has donated nearly $8 million and tens of thousands of wireless phones, each with 3,000 minutes of airtime, to domestic violence agencies and organizations through the Verizon Wireless HopeLine phone-recycling program. At the same time, we've collected seven million phones that would have otherwise been gathering dust or clogging landfills. The phones -- from any carrier, in any condition -- are collected in our stores nationwide and in special collections, often organized with the help of local police.

Through the HopeLine program, our company has been privileged to work with many extraordinary members of laws enforcement. We've sponsored phone collection drives with police and sheriffs' departments and partnered with attorneys general in several states to create campaigns around elder abuse, teen dating and other domestic violence issues. Because of our unique and extremely gratifying relationships with police officers, we created the HopeLine Law Enforcement Partnership Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions of these leaders to our HopeLine program.

National Police Week will bring thousands of law enforcement officers and their families to our nation's capital this week. Many of them will visit the site in Judiciary Square where the new National Law Enforcement Museum will be built. For this son of a cop, there's nothing better than sharing in this commemoration, acknowledging the sacrifice of so many members of law enforcement, honoring those who currently serve, and simply saying thank you.

Mike Maiorana is president of the Washington, Baltimore. Virginia Region of Verizon Wireless.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

16th Annual Blue Mass

Public safety and law enforcement officers from over 30 agencies processed into St. Patrick Church in Washington, DC, today for the 16th Annual Blue Mass, to honor and remember officers killed in the line of duty. Blue Mass began in 1934, when police officers gathered to pray for their fallen comrades and seek God's blessing for their own safety. The tradition stopped in the mid-1970s, but has resumed in grander fashion than ever. The name "Blue Mass" comes from the traditional color of many officers' uniforms.

The principal celebrant and homilist for the Blue Mass was Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. As a special honor this year, Lynn Lyons-Wynne, the NLEOMF's Senior Director of Memorial Programs, was invited to do a reading.

In 2009, 116 officers nationwide died in the line of duty, including six federal officers and three officers from Virginia who were remembered during today's Blue Mass.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Special Salute to Our Nation's Corrections Officers

From the beginning, the service and sacrifice of America's corrections officers have been an integral part of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Today, 565 corrections professionals who made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered on the Memorial walls.

To honor these heroes, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments hosted the 19th Annual Corrections Officers Wreath Laying Ceremony and Honor Guard Competition on Saturday, May 1, at the Memorial grounds. The ceremony helped to kick off National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, which runs immediately before National Police Week, from May 2-8. Following the wreath laying ceremony, honor guard units from corrections departments in DC, Maryland and Virigina competed, with the U.S. Coast Guard serving as judges.

Craig W. Floyd, Chairman & CEO of the Memorial Fund, was the guest speaker at the ceremony. He somberly read a roll call of corrections officers who recently died in the performance of duty, while officers marched to the center medallion and placed a single rose there. After each name was read, a bell chimed, and at the end of the roll call, white doves were released into the skies above the Memorial as a symbolic tribute to the fallen heroes.

"Today, the words inscribed on this Memorial ring out, “In valor there is hope.” As long as there are men and women among us willing to put their lives at risk for the safety and security of others, there is indeed great hope for the future of this nation, and the future of our children. May God bless all of our nation’s corrections professionals for what they do each and every day to keep America safe."

Read his full remarks here.