by Jon Melegrito | May 11, 2012
It’s National Police Week — a time to celebrate the law enforcement officers who put themselves in danger when duty calls, to protect our streets. And it’s a fitting time for lawmakers to commit themselves to adequately fund the grant programs that are critical to law enforcement.
Those programs include the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) and the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants that assist state and local law enforcement agencies in carrying out and updating their justice programs. AFSCME is urging its members and community allies to use the toll-free Public Safety hotline to contact their U.S representatives and senators. Simply dial 877-267-2485 and follow the instructions to be directly connected to the office of your member of Congress.
Such programs are vital to preventing the violence that claims the lives of too many officers each year. On average, one law enforcement officer dies in the line of duty in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1971, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
On Sunday, the 24th Annual Candlelight Vigil takes place at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. The ceremony recognizes the hundreds of heroes killed in the line of duty and their names are added to the walls of the memorial. The National AFSCME Law Enforcement Board will be attending the ceremony.
“As we gather this week in our nation’s capital to pay honor and respect to our fallen brothers and sisters who have given the ultimate sacrifice, let us never forget that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our nation and keep it strong,” said James Lyman, executive director of the New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union (Council 82). “God bless them and keep them safe.”
Among those risking their lives is William Beeler of the Manchester, Conn., police department (Local 1495, Council 15). Beeler suffered serious injuries last year while responding to a domestic violence call. Like the 125,000 public safety officers – including 30,000 police officers – represented by AFSCME, Beeler was not afraid to act in spite of the potential threat to his own life.
It is also a fitting time to welcome the law enforcement members now bolstering our ranks. Last month, AFSCME grew by 325 police officers in Greater Salt Lake City, Utah, after they voted to unionize. They are now represented by The Unified Police Federation/AFSCME Local 45, which has set the standard for quality representation for police officers in Utah.
Congress established National Police Week in 1962.