The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 16 will host its annual Police Memorial service on Thursday to honor fallen law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty over the past year. This will be the local FOP’s 34th ceremony and will take place during National Police Week.
“We do it every year during Police Week,” said Jim Wyatt, president of the FOP lodge. “A national memorial service is held in Washington, D.C. every year — the president usually comes and lays a wreath. Last Monday, the state FOP held their ceremony as well.”
In 1972, Donald J. Gulifoil, a detective with the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, initiated the federal legislation to establish a National Police Memorial. A national monument was then established to honor all of America’s fallen law enforcement officers. Since then, ceremonies honoring fallen law enforcement officers have been held at the federal, state and local levels.
“It’s been going on way before I got here,” Wyatt said. “We honor our fallen brothers and sisters who died the previous year, and we honor their families who’ve been left behind.”
Wyatt said an introduction and prayer service will be held on Thursday, followed by an outdoor ceremony that includes a 21 gun salute and what Wyatt calls a 10-7, in which each fallen officer is announced out loud over a speaker.
According to statistics reported to the FBI, 106 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2018. Of those 106, 55 officers died as a result of felonious acts while 51 officers died in accidental incidents. Nine more officers were killed in felonious acts than in the previous year.
Wyatt said no matter how an officer dies in the line of duty, their service and dedication to public service and their lives taken are seen as incredible sacrifices made to better protect the communities they serve. The Police Memorial is one way of acknowledging those officers for their sacrifices.
“Whether it’s a tragic circumstance, such as an officer killed while sitting in their car, minding their own business, or a heroic act, or an accident — there’s all kinds of reasons these officers sacrificed their lives,” Wyatt said.
John Holiday, executive director of Kentucky’s Office of Homeland Security, will be the guest speaker for Thursday’s event, Wyatt said. The Police Memorial ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at Christ Community Church, located at 1220 Center St.