The names of 387 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty—133 of them during 2008—will be formally dedicated on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, on the evening of May 13, during the 21st Annual Candlelight Vigil.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver the keynote address and lead the lighting of candles and reading of the names of the fallen officers. In addition to the 133 officers killed in the line of duty during 2008, the ceremony will honor another 254 officers who died in previous years but whose stories had previously slipped through the cracks of history.
Each May 13, an estimated 20,000 people pack the Memorial grounds in Judiciary Square for the Candlelight Vigil, part of the National Police Week observance.
"Almost every other day in our country, a law enforcement officer loses his or her life for the safety and protection of others—a truly remarkable record of service and sacrifice that enables our residents to live in peace and freedom," said Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. "Coming to the Candlelight Vigil in person or viewing the ceremony over the videocast is a wonderful way for a grateful nation to show its appreciation and respect for these American heroes," he added.
Dedicated in 1991, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honors those U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Including the officers whose names have been added this year, there are now 18,661 names engraved on the Memorial, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and federal law enforcement and military police agencies.
After increasing sharply in 2007, officer fatalities fell by 27 percent in 2008. The 133 officers killed in the line of duty last year was the lowest annual total since 1960, when there were 127 officer deaths. The number of officers killed by gunfire declined even more dramatically last year. The 39 officers shot and killed in 2008 represented a reduction of 43 percent from 2007 and was the lowest annual figure since 1956.
"As encouraging as the 2008 numbers were, the recent murders of four officers in Oakland and three in Pittsburgh remind us of the ongoing and unpredictable dangers that confront law enforcement in our country," said Floyd.
The names of the 387 officers being added this year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial are online at www.nleomf.org/TheMemorial/Facts/names2009.htm.