As the members of the 263rd Session of the FBI National Academy exited the buses that brought them to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, they made their way to the walls inscribed with the names of more than 20,000 fallen officers.
On the crisp, clear evening of Tuesday, March 1, 2016, they crouched down by the walls to etch names onto paper, their colleagues providing extra light from their smartphones. They came to pay their respects to their fellow officers before graduating from the academy the following week.
Jeff McCormick, of the FBI, invited them to the middle of the Memorial and started the program by reminding them of the ultimate sacrifice the fallen officers made. He was followed by the National Anthem, sung by two officers from the New York City Police Department.
Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd began his remarks by reminding the crowd of the numerous recent killings of police officers, including Ashley Guindon, who was eulogized at a funeral service that afternoon in nearby Prince William County, Virginia.
“There are now 20,538 names inscribed on these memorial walls,” Floyd said. “This coming May [during National Police Week], we’ll be adding approximately 250 more.”
“On average, one law enforcement professional is killed in the line of duty every 60 hours. There are some 57,000 criminal attacks and assaults against law enforcement officers each year in this country. More than 100,000 law enforcement professionals are injured in the line of duty each year. And yet, amazingly, some 900,000 of you go out every day, risking your life and safety for the protection of others. It’s truly remarkable when you consider those statistics.”
The negative image and public scrutiny that has been plaguing law enforcement in recent years was also addressed.
“That’s why it really bothers me, sickens me, really, when you hear some of the anti-cop sentiment that we’ve heard over these last couple of years. For the most part, the average citizen doesn’t have any contact with a law enforcement officer. The Justice Department tells us only 1 out of 5 citizens has any contact at all with a law enforcement officer during the course of a year. Most of those are traffic stops.”
He continued, “You know, we hear so much of the courage of our officers, we don’t hear nearly enough about the compassion that you all display on a daily basis.”
Floyd closed his speech by telling the members about the plans to open the National Law Enforcement Museum in 2018. Financing for the Museum was secured in late-January and construction is expected to start later this month.
“We’ll have two beautiful glass pavilions that will greet our visitors, and then you’ll descend down into the underground Museum. In this historic area we call ‘Judiciary Square,’ there will be 57,000 square-feet of space to tell your story.”