During National Police Week, the Justice Department participated in events across the country to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve. On Monday evening, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the 25th Annual National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Candlelight Vigil in Washington, D.C. He said that last year witnessed the fewest line-of-duty deaths since the 1950s, but that a single act of violence against a law enforcement officer is one too many. Attorney General Holder further noted:
“Especially this evening – as we gather in this place of honor, on this hallowed ground, to mark the 25th Annual Candlelight Vigil – I want to assure you that the courage, the fidelity and the heroic final actions of our fallen officers will never be forgotten. Every day – in cities, rural areas and tribal communities across the country – these individuals stood on the front lines of our nation’s fight against crime and violence. Each faced uncertain dangers, and a diverse array of threats, every time they put on their badge and uniform.”On Wednesday, Attorney General Holder and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary announced several improvements to modernize and streamline the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program. Attorney General Holder stated:
“These fundamental improvements to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program will help us cut through red tape – and ensure that fallen or injured officers and their families can get the benefits they need in a timely manner. These improvements are representative of the value that I, the women and men of the Justice Department, and our entire country, must always place on the work of our law enforcement officers. And, it’s emblematic of our commitment to standing with all who bravely serve our nation, especially in the toughest of times.”U.S. Attorneys across the country also commemorated Police Week in their districts. U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz recently recognized 152 officials from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for exceptional service at the U.S. Attorney’s annual Law Enforcement Public Service Awards Ceremony. The event followed just weeks after the death of MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was shot and killed on April 18th just days after the Boston Marathon bombings. During the event, U.S. Attorney Ortiz praised law enforcement personnel and their accomplishments and recognized the demands placed upon them, saying:
“This work can be difficult, and at times, it may seem thankless. Please know that your efforts do not go unnoticed. What you have sacrificed – your personal safety, your precious time with your families – it is truly appreciated by our office, your agencies and the communities for which you have dedicated your esteemed service.”U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York William J. Hochul Jr. spoke at the Police Memorial Service at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo honoring 94 federal, state and local officers killed in the line of duty and at a monument dedication ceremony in Clarence, N.Y. in memory of New York State Trooper Kevin Dobson who was killed in the line of duty in 2011. Other U.S. Attorneys and their staff attended memorial services, parades, wreath laying and other special events commemorating Police Week in Los Angeles, Jackson, Miss., Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio, Providence, R.I., Knoxville, Tenn., Dallas, Charleston, W.V., among others across the country. Also during Police Week, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office held an open house in the Capitol Visitors Center for visiting law enforcement officers who wanted to learn more about the agency’s 2013 programs and resources. COPS staff was on hand to discuss federal funding opportunities, including the COPS Hiring Program, a competitive grant program focused on school safety, veteran hiring and homicide and gun violence reduction. Grant opportunities for the development of community policing strategies and funding for public safety enhancements in tribal jurisdictions were also highlighted. Events continue this weekend and throughout the month, to honor those who serve and protect every community across the country. For more information, including a detailed schedule of events for National Police Week 2013, visit www.policeweek.org.