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324 Fallen Law Enforcement Officers are Honored during Candlelight Vigil

Attorney General Eric Holder leads the lighting of candles and reading of the officers’ names; 116 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2009, the lowest total in 50 years

May 13, 2010

Washington, DC – The names of 324 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty — 116 of them during 2009 — were formally dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Thursday evening in Washington, DC.

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. led the lighting of candles and reading of the fallen officers’ names during the 22nd annual Candlelight Vigil at the Memorial grounds. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Jennifer Thacker, national president of the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), also participated in the annual tribute to officers who have died in the line of duty, part of the National Police Week observance in the nation’s capital.

The 116 officers who died in 2009 was the lowest law enforcement fatality total since 1959, when 109 officers were killed. In addition, 208 officers who died in previous years but whose deaths had been lost to history were added to the Memorial this year. The monument in Judiciary Square now contains the names of 18,983 law enforcement officers who have died in law enforcement service throughout U.S. history from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and federal law enforcement and military police agencies.

“While we are certainly encouraged by the reduction in law enforcement fatalities in 2009, these statistics provide little solace to the family members, loved ones and colleagues of the officers who did make the ultimate sacrifice last year,” said Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which operates the Memorial and helps to organize National Police Week each May. “These heroes died providing for our safety and protection, and their service and sacrifice will always be remembered on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial,” he said.

Between 2008 and 2009, law enforcement fatalities declined by 16 percent, an encouraging development driven by a 28 percent reduction in the number of officers killed in traffic-related incidents. Still, for the 12th year in a row, more officers died in traffic-related incidents in 2009 than were killed by gunfire or any other single cause of death.

The number of officers shot and killed rose last year, from 40 in 2008 to 49 in 2009. The 2009 total included 15 officers who were gunned down in five multiple-fatality shooting incidents in Oakland (CA), Pittsburgh (PA), Okaloosa County (FL), Seminole County (OK) and Lakewood (WA).

Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico experienced officer fatalities during 2009. Texas had the most officer deaths, with 10, followed by Florida, 8, and California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington state, with 7 each. Six federal law enforcement officers also died in 2009, including three Drug Enforcement Administration special agents killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan while conducting counter-narcotics operations. 

Dedicated in 1991, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. Each May 13, as part of National Police Week, the newly engraved names of officers killed in the line of duty are read aloud and formally dedicated on the National Memorial during the Candlelight Vigil. An estimated 20,000 people attend the ceremony in person each year, including surviving family members, friends, law enforcement colleagues and others, and thousands more participate via a live webcast of the ceremony provided through a partnership between the Memorial Fund and Officer.com.

For more information, including the names of officers added this year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, visit www.LawMemorial.org.

Contact: Kevin Morison
202-737-7134 -- kevin@nleomf.org