The National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Fund
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The names of 358 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty — 181 of them during 2007 — were formally dedicated on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, Tuesday evening during a candlelight vigil for fallen officers led by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
In addition to the 181 officers who were killed in 2007, 177 officers who died in previous years but whose deaths had been lost to history were added to the Memorial this year. The monument now contains the names of 18,274 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and federal law enforcement and military police agencies.
"As individuals, the 358 men and women we honor tonight were unique in so many ways, but as a group, they shared a common bond of service, a common heritage of bravery and selflessness," said Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which operates the Memorial and helps to organize National Police Week each May. "Now, these officers share a common place of honor among some 18,000 others who went before them - dedicated to family and community, unafraid of the risks inherent in their chosen profession, eager in spirit, righteous in cause and strong to the very end," he said.
Attorney General Mukasey delivered the keynote address at the 20th Annual Candlelight Vigil and led the lighting of candles and reading of the names of all 358 fallen officers.
2007 was one of the deadliest years for U.S. law enforcement in nearly two decades. The number of officers killed in the line of duty last year increased nearly 20 percent from 2006, when there were 151 officer deaths. Outside of 2001, when 72 officers died on 9/11, the last year in which the number of officer fatalities was higher was 1989, when there were 196 deaths.
The 2007 increase was driven, in part, by a 26 percent rise in the number of officers shot and killed. Of the 68 officers shot to death last year, 13 died in six separate incidents in which two or more officers were gunned down, including the deaths of three Odessa (TX) Police officers responding to a domestic disturbance call in September.
A record 83 officers died in traffic-related incidents last year, including 60 in automobile accidents, nine in motorcycle accidents and 14 who were stuck and killed by other vehicles while outside their police vehicles.
Forty states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories experienced officer fatalities during 2007. Texas had the most officer deaths, with 22, followed by Florida (16), California (10), Louisiana (9) and North Carolina (8). Seventeen federal law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year, including seven U.S. Customs and Border Protection members and six special agents with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Dedicated in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. Each May 13, as part of National Police Week, the newly engraved names of officers killed in the line of duty are read aloud and formally dedicated on the National Memorial during the Candlelight Vigil. An estimated 20,000 people attend the ceremony each year, including surviving family members, friends, law enforcement colleagues and others.