The names of 324 U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty will be formally dedicated on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., during the annual candlelight vigil on May 13.
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. The 324 officers include 116 who died in the line of duty during 2009—the lowest annual total in five decades—and another 208 officers who died earlier in history but whose sacrifice had not been previously documented.
The vigil will be at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at E Street, between 4th and 5th Streets, NW in Washington D.C.
Along with Holder, other guest speakers include Craig Floyd, chairman and chief executive of the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund; Jennifer Thacker, president of Concerns of Police Survivors and other law enformcement leaders.
Each May 13, an estimated 20,000 people assemble at the Memorial grounds in Judiciary Square for the Candlelight Vigil, which is part of National Police Week, which runs from May 9-14.
The 116 officers killed in the line of duty in 2009 was the lowest number since 1959, when there were 109 deaths. Between 2008 and 2009, law enforcement fatalities declined by 16 percent, an encouraging development driven by a sharp, 28 percent reduction in the number of officers killed in traffic-related incidents.
However, the number of officers killed by gunfire rose last year, from 40 in 2008 to 49 in 2009. The 2009 total included 15 officers who were gunned down in five multiple-fatality shooting incidents in Oakland (Calif.), Pittsburgh (Pa.), Okaloosa County (Fla.), Seminole County (Okla.) and Lakewood (Wash.).
"As encouraging as the overall numbers were last year, we remain deeply concerned about the rise in firearms violence against our officers-a trend that, unfortunately, has continued into the first four months of 2010," according to Floyd. "On May 13 during our Candlelight Vigil, we honor the brave men and women of law enforcement who put the safety and protection of others ahead of their own and who made the ultimate sacrifice in the process."
A complete schedule of National Police Week events in Washington, D.C., can be found at the NLEOMF website.
Dedicated in 1991, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honors U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Including the officers whose names are being added this year, there are now 18,983 names engraved on the Memorial, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and federal law enforcement and military police agencies.