U.S. Attorney’s Office for The District of Vermont Celebrates Funding Awarded to Combat Domestic and Sexual Violence
The week of May 9th to May 15th will be recognized around the country as National Police Week. This tradition of recognizing the service and sacrifice of law enforcement began in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officer’s Memorial Day and National Police Week. National Peace Officer’s Day, which falls on May 15th every year, honors law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. National Police Week is set aside each year to recognize the significant contributions and extraordinary work by law enforcement in keeping our communities safe.
“Our federal, state, county, and local law enforcement partners regularly face challenging and dangerous situations, without hesitation,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt. “The commitment of law enforcement to protecting the safety of our community has not waivered during the difficulties of the pandemic. A necessary conversation is happening nationwide about police reform, and an examination of the role of police and the tactics they use is warranted and justified. I encourage continued engagement with this important issue, but also encourage celebration of the individuals who belong to the noble profession of law enforcement. We cannot live in a thriving community without having guardians of peace and a functioning system of justice. Police officers are vital to preventing the victimization of our children, our elders, our minority populations, and all vulnerable Vermonters. I thank each of them for their daily sacrifices and call good men and women to join them in the ranks of the hard working and honest law enforcement professionals serving all Vermonters.”
According to national statistics, 295 American law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2020. 182 of them died of COVID, which they contracted while on duty, serving their communities. This is a stark reminder of the level of dedication and good work law enforcement officers selflessly perform every day. Their work stands in sharp contrast with officers who unlawfully choose to abuse their authority and betray their peacekeeper oath.
Although Vermont was fortunate to avoid a law enforcement line-of-duty death this past year, the Vermont law enforcement community lost a close friend and colleague. On February 2, 2021, FBI Special Agent Daniel Alfin was shot to death in Sunrise, Florida while serving a search warrant at the home of a child pornography suspect. Agent Alfin’s death and that of his fellow FBI Agent sent shockwaves through the federal law enforcement community. SA Alfin had worked in the Albany Field Office of the FBI, which supports FBI investigations in Vermont. SA Alfin’s dedication to the protection of children included supporting multiple Vermont investigations and prosecutions, and his name was known within the Vermont USAO as an agent with the brightest of futures. His death was a true tragedy, and a grim reminder that all investigations have risk.
A total of 41 law enforcement officers have died on duty while serving Vermonters. The risks of this profession are a constant concern of our law enforcement officers and present in every town in Vermont. Danger is a possibility in each call for help. Their willingness to rush to intervene in instances of domestic violence, shootings, assaults, burglaries, homicides, robberies, and other crimes deserves gratitude.
The United States Attorney’s Office honors those who have lost their lives and been injured in service of others. We also recognize the sacrifice of law enforcement families, who shoulder a unique and complex set of emotions and challenges stemming from the service of their loved ones. Some endure the horrors of loss, but all endure additional anxiety and burdens stemming from the demands of a law enforcement career.
National Police Week also reminds us about the need for officer wellness. Law enforcement is a highly stressful profession, requiring a unique combination of poise, flexibility, and perception. The constant pressures of responding to unknown circumstances can take a toll in normal circumstances. The addition of a public health crisis and frequent burden of overtime undoubtedly has exacerbated the challenge. Law enforcement officers suffer increased heart disease, stress disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and alcohol abuse. Stigmas and the perception of potential impacts on employment create barriers to treatment. In 2020, 172 officers died of suicide. So far in 2021, 56 officers have taken their own lives. We encourage officers to seek the support and help they need. Please call 1-800-273-TALK or text “blue” to 741741.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office relies heavily on our federal, state, county, and local law enforcement partners in striving to make Vermont a safe community. During National Police Week, we will join Vermonters and our nation in remembering and honoring those injured and fallen officers who bravely served. And we will celebrate the noble sacrifice made by all honorable officers each and every day.