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.