Police officers might have one of the most thankless jobs in the United States.
While we see them everywhere and at all times of the day, most people only have personal contact with an officer when they have broken the law or become the victim of a crime.
They are the men and women who are willing to step into danger to enforce our laws and are willing to lay down their lives to protect others. Those who have given their lives defending others are being remembered today in Washington, D.C., during the 28th annual Peace Officers Memorial Service. The event is part of National Police Week.
As part of the week, the names of the 133 officers killed while protecting others during 2008 and 254 others who died in the line of duty will be added to the National Peace Officers Memorial, bringing the total to 18,662.
The first officer in the United States known to have been killed while on duty was Issac Smith, a New York City sheriff’s deputy who lost his life on May 17, 1792.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, one law enforcement officer is killed somewhere in the United States every 53 hours, and, on average, more than 56,000 officers are assaulted each year, resulting in more than 16,000 injuries.
Of the officers who died last year, 44 died in auto accidents, 39 were shot to death, 18 were struck by a vehicle, 13 died from a job-related illness, and nine were killed in motorcycle accidents. Thirteen of the officers killed were women.
Since 1792, Texas has suffered the greatest losses of any state, with 1,504 officers killed in the line of duty. The fewest deaths – 19 – have been recorded in Vermont. Ohio has lost 743 officers and West Virginia 146.
In Marietta, a black granite marker on the corner lawn at City Hall memorializes seven law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. The last officer killed was Deputy Rodney K. Kinzy on April 17, 1990. Six other names on the memorial include Marietta police officer Harrison L. Boyd (Jan. 11, 1925); Washington County Deputy Charlie Ross (Oct. 4, 1947); Beverly police officer Frank Wilson (Jan. 15, 1949); Beverly police officer Donald O. McLaughlin (Aug. 16, 1970); Deputy Ray R. “Joe” Clark (Feb. 7, 1981); and Marietta police officer Charles G. Scott Jr. (Jan. 26, 1989).
Last year, area residents were reminded how dangerous police work can be when Deputy Scott Parks was seriously wounded responding to a call near Reno.
We hope that everyone will take a moment today to remember those who work to enforce our laws and keep our communities safe.