By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice
Due to current public attitudes toward law enforcement, there has never been a more important time to show your appreciation and support for police officers. National Police Week (May 11-17) is an excellent occasion to demonstrate your appreciation for the hard work that police officers do every day.
The History of National Police Week and Its Events
In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. The same year, Congress developed a joint resolution for National Police Week to provide recognition to officers who died in the line of duty.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, National Police Week consists of:
- A candlelight vigil
- A roll call of heroes that died in the line of duty
- Various ceremonies
- Wreath laying
- A memorial march to honor law enforcement
Why Is National Police Week Important?
National Police Week is an important time to reflect on the dedication and sacrifice of our law enforcement heroes. Police officers need our support; in addition to dealing with the worst of society, they run into danger when catastrophe hits and protect others. They put their safety at risk and sacrifice their time with their families to protect the community.
The public must remember that police officers are people, too. They have hopes, goals, regrets and worries. They are someone’s parent, child or sibling.
Police officers put others before themselves by daily risking their safety. Most citizens have very limited interaction with law enforcement officers and may overlook the importance of humanizing police officers.
Stories of daily heroism and kindness by law enforcement are often overlooked by the news media. For instance:
- Two Nevada officers rescued a 75-year-old homeless woman and reunited her with her family.
- An officer in Tennessee provided food to a homeless person who said he was starving.
- An officer in Milwaukee bought a mother two car seats instead of issuing her a citation for not having the car seats for her children.
Community Support Is Priceless for Police Officers
One of the biggest rewards for police officers is community support. Officers do not serve to prosper financially or to have authority.
Instead, they have a strong desire to help people. This help may come in the form of protecting them from the evil that lurks in communities throughout the United States. They seek to stop the predators who victimize people and are the first to respond when people are in their greatest time of need.
There are various ways that the public can display support for law enforcement, including obeying the law, making eye contact with officers or engaging in community policing activities such as National Night Out. National Night Out is an event where police agencies open their doors for the public for tours and teach local residents more about how law enforcement serves the community.
Community policing serves an important role in connecting the police with the community that they serve. Another way that people can show their support for law enforcement is to partner with the police in neighborhood watch programs and other programs that promote communication between the police and the community.
Law enforcement is a highly dangerous job, and public support has a major impact on the morale and well-being of police officers. Ideally, citizens should get to know the officers that provide their community protection and foster partnerships to reduce crime and increase public safety, especially during National Police Week.