"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion." Proverbs 28:1 This scripture, inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., is a description of the thousands of men and women who gave all to protect and serve our communities across America.
During the 2021 National Police Week, May 9-15, we honor and remember those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the family members, friends and fellow officers they left behind. This week is set aside to remember the peace makers who gave sacrificially of themselves. Their memory will live on in those who continue to serve.
Every day, law enforcement officers across the Nation are required to deal with many things; from ensuring public safety, to serving as front-line workers, to responding to incidents involving domestic violence, substance use disorders, mental health challenges, and homelessness, often with limited resources. The Nation's law enforcement officers pin on a badge each day and go to work, not knowing what the day will bring, and hoping to come home safely. This year, even as the COVID-19 pandemic took a physical, mental, and emotional toll, officers, deputies, and troopers demonstrated courage and dedication in continuing to support their respective communities.
May 15, 2021, has been designated, by proclamation of the President, as National Peace Officers' Memorial Day. President John F. Kennedy signed the first proclamation in 1962 designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day. Usually, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, DC to participate in a number of planned events which honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The names of 394 officers killed in the line of duty were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC this year. These 394 officers included 295 (182 fatalities are COVID-19-related) officers who were killed during 2020, plus 99 officers who died in previous years but whose stories of sacrifice had been lost to history until now. Of those 394 names, 4 are of Alabama officers With these additions, there are more than 22,000 officers' names engraved on the Memorial, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, federal law enforcement, and military police agencies.
In Cherokee County, we honor the memory of four fallen officers: Cherokee County Sheriff Lansford Stallings, December 4, 1845; Officer Elmo S. Morgan, Cedar Bluff Police Department, December 29, 1972; Officer William H. Wilson, Cedar Bluff Police Department, July 29, 1973; Investigator Jeffrey Hugh Bryant, Centre Police Department, December 20, 2013. (According to https://nleomf.org)
In tribute to American law enforcement officers and at the request of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Public Law 103-322 designates May 15th National Peace Officers Memorial Day, which is one of only two days each year during which government agencies, businesses and residents are to fly their U.S. flags at half staff.
Please join me in lifting up the families of fallen peace officers in prayer as they continue to heal from their loss. I also ask that you continue to pray for our Nation's law enforcement officers as they work diligently to protect their fellow citizens.
-Sheriff Jeff Shaver