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AFSCME Celebrates Law Enforcement Week

Pictured: National Police Week 31st Annual Candlelight Vigil. Photo Credit: Getty / Chip Somodevilla / Staff
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By Pete Levine Your Union

Members of AFSCME’s law enforcement community take countless risks to keep our communities safe. When those brave heroes make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, our obligation is to never forget them.

National Police Week is a time to honor fallen law enforcement officers, as well as a time for the law enforcement community to stand in solidarity with each other.

In 2018, two Minnesota AFSCME members died in the line of duty in separate incidents while serving their communities: Council 5 corrections officers Joseph Gomm and Joseph Parise.

Their names, along with the names of 158 officers killed in the line of duty in 2018, will be added to the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., and honored during an annual candlelight vigil, Police Week’s signature event, on May 13.

AFSCME members like Sergeant Phil Sharp will travel with their fellow officers to Washington, D.C., for the week’s events, as they have for more than 20 years. Sharp is a 26-year veteran of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s police force and treasurer of the Bridgeport Police Union, AFSCME Local 1159 (Council 4), and member of its Executive Board.

“We’ve been going down [to Washington, D.C.] for many years to provide support to the families who’ve lost loved ones in the line of duty,” said Sharp, who has attended Police Week’s annual events for the last 23 years. “We try to do whatever we can, including participating in specialized details for the candlelight vigil, parades and the Blue Mass. We want to pay our respects in any way we can.”

One of the Bridgeport’s lieutenants, Jeffrey Grice, will participate in the Police Week 5K run.

United in Sorrow, Unified in Action

While Law Enforcement Week is a time for reflection, it’s also an opportunity to stand together to fight for the tools AFSCME law enforcement members deserve, among them: better staffing, protecting due process, ensuring a seat at the table.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, members of AFSCME Local 1159 (Council 4) secured their first contract since July 2016.

Maryland public safety officers championed an effort to defeat a change to the law enforcement officer’s bill of rights, which will allow them to better safeguard due process for police officers.

And in Belen, New Mexico, Local 601 (Council 18) police officers secured important retention raises, putting them on stronger footing to retain skilled, seasoned officers.

Members of the AFSCME law enforcement community never shy away from the great risks they face in serving their communities. Instead, they continue to fight in solidarity for the resources they need to do their jobs at the highest level.