Police Memorial Week is always bittersweet for me, as it is for most of us in law enforcement. It’s a time of celebration and camaraderie and yet it’s also a time of reflection and sadness. As a member of my agency’s honor guard, I’ve always been involved in our local remembrances and ceremonies. I’ve also been fortunate enough to attend Police Memorial Week in Cleveland, Ohio but I’ve never been to the big one, National Police Week in Washington, D.C. and the related activities at the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Wall.
My last visit to the NLEOM was last October when my husband and I took our youngest daughter there for a visit. The Wall itself and the surrounding area is spectacular; truly a fitting tribute to our brothers and sisters who have made the ultimate sacrifice. But what struck me most as we were showing our daughter how to look up the names and find them on the wall was all that each individual represents. I sought out and made pencil rubs of names that mean so much to me. Deputy Kyle Wayne Dinkeller, Trooper Mark Coates, Officer Julie Jacks, Trooper Randy Vetter, and Officer Molly Bowden to name a few. Using the guide book, I found these officers on the wall, I ran my fingers over the names and I reflected on the parents, siblings, wives, husbands, partners, fiancés and especially the children left behind. As I touched the cold granite, I thought about their agencies and communities, devastated by the loss of a local crimefighter, a brother or sister officer, a co-worker, a partner, a friend.
So I made my pencil rubs and I now carry them with me to each Street Survival Seminar I teach. And during my classes, as I talk about each officer, I try to honor each as a hero, I help my fellow officers learn from the sacrifice of our fallen, but mostly, I remember. That is what Police Memorial Week means to me; that we all take the time to honor, to remember, and to pray that the cold, solid stone that awaits new names remains smooth and untouched and that another name is never added to The Wall. Stay safe.