Washington, DC - The names of 316 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty - 152 of them in 2010 - were formally dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Friday 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 23rd annual Candlelight Vigil, held at the Memorial grounds. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Linda Moon-Gregory, 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, a special part of the National Police Week observance in the nation's capital.
The 152 officers who died in 2010 represent an increase of almost 25% over the number of officers who died in the line of duty in 2009. In addition, 164 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 19,298 fallen law enforcement officers - from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and federal law enforcement and military police agencies - who have died in the performance of duty throughout U.S. history.
"The safety of our communities and the freedoms we enjoy as a nation have always come at a price," said Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which maintains the Memorial and is one of the leading organizers of National Police Week each May. "In 2010, the price paid by our heroic and dedicated law enforcement officers was especially high, and the loss felt by their loved ones and colleagues was heavy. 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 2009 and 2010, law enforcement fatalities increased by 25 percent, a discouraging development driven by a 20 percent increase in the number of officers killed in gunfire incidents. Still, for the 13th year in a row, traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer fatalities with 71 officers killed in the line of duty.
The number of officers shot and killed rose last year, from 49 in 2009 to 59 in 2010. The 2010 total included 10 officers who were gunned down in five multiple-fatality shooting incidents in Fresno (CA), San Juan (PR), Tampa (FL), West Memphis (AR) and Hoonah (AK).
Thirty-eight states and Puerto Rico experienced officer fatalities in 2010. Texas had the most officer deaths, with 16, followed by California with 11. Florida, Georgia and Illinois each had nine fatalities. Nine federal law enforcement officers also died in 2010, including three from the U.S. Border and Customs Protection and two agents from the U.S. Border Patrol.
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.