Every year in Washington D.C. officers from all of over the United States and Canada gather to celebrate the memory of police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. National Police Week is in their 38th year of operation. This year, thee gathering kicked off May 12, 2019. A series of events led to the finale, the memorial service with President Donald Trump as the keynote speaker.
The events begin with the 5k race. Walkers and runners of all ages join together at the capitol to complete the race in honor of fallen law enforcement. The 5k race is hosted by the Officer Down Memorial Page. On this page you are able to view officers who have passed away or report officers who have passed.
The next day is the Law Enforcement United Bike Ride which began in Alexandria, Virginia. Their slogan “We Ride for Those Who Died” stresses the main purpose of the ride is to raise awareness to fallen officers. The organizations second goal is to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and museum. According to the Police Unity Tour website they were able to donate $2.6 million this year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The Candlelight Vigil has been a tradition that has been going on for 31 years. The street is corded off by a trail of motorcycles. People in both uniforms and plain clothes walk toward the National Mall. With the Washington Monument as a backdrop, it creates a dramatic picture. Books are given out that show the breakdown of ceremonies, with the ending being the calling of names that are being added to the memorial.
This year, Texas had 11 officers killed in the line of duty. As each name was read, the gong of a bell could be heard. The crowd, originally lit by large lights is now lit by thousands of white pillar candles. Fathers hold their children closer and women comfort each other.
As you sit back and look at the lit candles and all of the people holding each other, it is visual proof that the brotherhood is real. Officers, family of officers and blue supporters all come together at one spot at one time to honor the memory of those who gave the greatest sacrifice.
One of the traditions during National Police Week is the exchange of patches. Police from all over bring their police department’s patches and trade them with other agencies. The most sought after patch is at times the patch where the largest incident has occurred.
The hangout spot of choice is Tent City. There you can listen to music, enjoy great food or buy drinks with your friends. With over 80 vendors, you can find almost all the police gear you would like. With operating hours of 11:00 a.m. until 2 a.m., it is a safe place to have fun and hang out with all of the new law enforcement you have met.
The D.C. Fraternal Order of Police provide a shuttle from their lodge to the vigil, the navy yard metro station, tent city and the Kelly’s Irish Times bar.
The 38th National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service is the last event of police week. Officers, all dressed in class A uniform, stand together with their departments as speeches are given. On the west front of the United States Capitol, Donald Trump addresses the crowd.
“Your loved ones were extraordinary and selfless Americans who gave everything they had in defense of our communities, our children and our nation.” Trump said.
Trump went on to tell the crowd that he will always support the brothers and sisters in blue. Trump vocalized his condemnation of anti-police rhetoric. He said that those who file false police reports should face legal consequences.
After the tribute to officers, Trump spoke of Corporal Singh, an officer who was killed around Christmas time during a traffic stop by someone who crossed the border. The president then used that time to talk about immigration.
NPW provides a time of bonding for all officers involved. If ever you wanted a reminder of why you do the job you do, it is laid out for your eyes to see the entire week.