The service and sacrifice of federal, state, and local law enforcement are recognized during National Police Week. This year, the week is observed from Sunday, May 9 through Saturday, May 15, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore said, “National Police Week provides an opportunity to express our gratitude and to honor the memories of law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their community,” Moore said. “Tragically, four officers in the Western District of Missouri lost their lives in the line of duty in 2021. They will not be forgotten, and their sacrifice was not in vain. Their unflinching dedication reminds us that our law enforcement partners often face uncertain and dangerous situations with bravery and without hesitation.”
“This week is a time to honor our law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “I am constantly inspired by the extraordinary courage and dedication with which members of law enforcement act each day, putting their lives on the line to make our communities safer. To members of law enforcement and your families: we know that not a single day, nor a single week, is enough to recognize your service and sacrifice. On behalf of the entire Department of Justice, you have our unwavering support and eternal gratitude.”
In 1962, President Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week to remember and honor law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifices. Peace Officers Memorial Day, which every year falls on May 15, specifically honors law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Each year, during National Police Week, our nation celebrates the contributions of law enforcement from around the country, recognizing their hard work, dedication, loyalty, and commitment to keeping our communities safe. This year the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted law enforcement officers’ courage and unwavering devotion to the communities that they have sworn to serve.
During the Roll Call of Heroes, a ceremony coordinated by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), more than 300 officers will be honored. Based on data submitted to and analyzed by the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), of the law enforcement officers who died nationwide in the line of duty in 2020, nearly 60 percent succumbed to COVID-19.
Additionally, according to statistics reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through the Law Enforcement Officer Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program, 46 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts and 47 died in accidents in 2020. LEOKA statistics can be found on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer website.
Here in the Western District of Missouri, four officers died in the line of duty in 2021. Officer Chris Walsh of the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, was fatally shot on March 16, 2021. Sheriff Andy Clark of the DeKalb County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department was killed in a traffic crash on June 3, 2021. Detention Officer Dwight Willis of the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department died from COVID-19 on Nov. 22, 2021. Officer Kendle Blackburn of the Lebanon, Mo., Police Department died from COVID-19 on Dec. 28, 2021.
The names of the 394 fallen officers who have been added in 2020 to the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial will be read on Thursday, May 13, 2021, during a Virtual Candlelight Vigil, which will be live-streamed to the public at 7 p.m. The Police Week in-person public events, originally scheduled for May, have been rescheduled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns to Oct. 13-17, 2021. An in-person Candlelight Vigil event is scheduled for Oct. 14, 2021.
Those who wish to view the Virtual Candlelight Vigil on May 13, 2021, can watch it on the NLEOMF YouTube channel. The Fraternal Order of Police’s Roll Call of Heroes can be viewed at this link. To view the schedule of virtual Police Week events in May, view NLEOMF’s Police Week Flyer.
To learn more about National Police Week in-person events scheduled for October, please visit the National Police Week website.