Police–Community Division: America Unite

May 15, 2015 Updated: April 24, 2016

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week.

This week, between 25,000 and 40,000 law enforcement officers and supporters from throughout the world converged on Washington, D.C., to participate in events honoring colleagues who have offered the ultimate sacrifice.

Events will include a candlelight vigil and The National Peace Officer Memorial Service on the West Front of the United States Capitol. These are sponsored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) to help families and co-workers deal with grief, coping, and rebuilding lives.

The May 15 Memorial Service began with about 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement. Now, it attracts tens of thousands from police departments nationwide and internationally as well.

National Police Week is an outstanding police–community alliance, symbolizing the unity needed for America now more than ever.

FBI Releases Preliminary Statistics

Coinciding with National Police Week, the FBI released the report “2014 Preliminary Statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty” on May 11.

These statistics paint an alarming picture of the dangers law enforcement officers encounter as they protect and serve our communities.

NYPD Community Affairs officers with youth on June 25, 2014. (Courtesy of NYPD)
NYPD Community Affairs officers with youth on June 25, 2014. (Courtesy of NYPD)

The report shows that 51 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2014. This is a staggering increase of almost 89 percent over the 27 officers killed in 2013.

Additional details of the FBI statistics include the following:

• Eleven officers died from injuries inflicted as a result of answering disturbance calls, of which is included domestic disturbance.
• Ten officers were killed while conducting traffic stops.
• Eight were killed as a result of ambushes; six of these fatalities were due to entrapment or premeditated situations and two were due to unprovoked attacks.
• Six officers were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances.
• Five officers sustained fatal injuries while performing investigations.
• Four were involved with tactical situations.
• Three were involved with mental illness incidents.
• One was killed on a drug-related matter and three others were killed attempting to make arrests.

America’s law enforcement officers are in a dangerous and often thankless profession. The fatalities continue with the recent reprehensible killings of NYPD officer Brian Moore, 25, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, officers Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 24.

Building Police–Community Bridges

Tragically, America is experiencing a time of intense distrust between citizens and police due to incidents that have taken place on Staten Island, in Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, and North Charleston.

But we are all in this together. As outlined in my “Principles of American Policing,” a unity of effort is the only way as “being pro-police and pro-community are inseparable, indefatigable, and pre-eminent. Police must at all times remain fully committed to protecting and serving the public through character, ethics, and leadership. Police must be guided by a moral compass that honors the community, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.”

Yet, the word community must also be interchanged with the word police. Every community member also has responsibilities, duties, and obligations. Citizens must also live by a moral compass, code of ethics, and be law-abiding, respectful, and responsible.

Final Reflections

Community members have the right to expect police officers to be models of courtesy, professionalism, and respect. But police officers have the right to also expect citizens to be the same.

America is experiencing a culture of violence with both police officers and citizens experiencing senseless fatalities. Our police and citizens must build bridges as we are mission-critical partners in safeguarding the nation and protecting our communities.

American police officers: Stand tall and proud, and honor your noble profession with a heart of respect and unwavering dedication to protect and serve your communities.

American citizens: Build bridges with your police. Appreciate their efforts to protect your communities. Be fully dedicated to a unity of effort so that our neighborhoods have the security and safety they deserve.

Finally, only when law enforcement and citizens unite will we inspire our youth through school initiatives and truly ignite the fire of reawakening the nation.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com