Honoring Our Domestic Defenders During Police Week

By Steny Hoyer

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy designated May 15th as Peace Officers' Memorial Day, and the week in which May 15th falls as National Police Week. This week, we recognize Police Week from May 15 through the 21st.

On Friday, May 13, I joined law enforcement officials and their families from Maryland and across the country to participate in the 17th Annual Candlelight Vigil at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, where I was humbled to read the names of the Maryland fallen officers whose names have been added to the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. This memorial is a moving monument of remembrance that has the names of more than 17,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty engraved on its surface.

This year we added Maryland State Trooper Anthony Jones' name to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Trooper Jones was killed this week last year while on duty assisting another trooper. Tfc. Jones, like the 870,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States every day, exemplified the service and sacrifice that we honor during Police Week. As the recipient of awards for his valor and bravery, Trooper Jones demonstrated a commitment to public service and a sincere dedication to protecting and serving our community.

We also mourn the loss of Neale Slater of Mechanicsville, a Maryland State Police Cadet, and Cpl. Paul Morgan of Waldorf, a veteran of more than 18 years with the Charles County Sheriff's Office, who were both killed this year.

Although we don't often thank them for it, officers like Trooper Jones, Cadet Slater and Corporal Morgan help protect our most cherished rights as laid out by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We owe these fine and hard working people a great debt of gratitude for their contribution to our freedom and security.

Police officers and law enforcement personnel sacrifice a great deal to protect our communities and it is our duty to provide them with all available resources they need to protect our neighborhoods from harm and to ensure that they are able to safely perform their job.

I am deeply concerned that the Administration's budget proposal for 2006 gutted funding for the Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program. Furthermore, just yesterday, on a party line vote, the Republican Party killed an effort on the floor of the House of Representatives to reauthorize the popular and successful COPS program for an additional three years.

COPS funding has provided law enforcement officials serving our district with the real time equipment, technology, and personnel that they need to keep their departments running safely and efficiently. Since the creation of the COPS Program in 1994, I have joined the Congress in supporting the COPS program because it has allowed officers to spend more time on the streets of Southern Maryland fighting and preventing crime through time-saving technology, information-sharing systems, and improved communications equipment. I will work this year to again restore this funding and am hopeful that the Congress will remain committed to the COPS program.

As we recognize Police Week, we acknowledge the service and sacrifice of our dedicated law enforcement officials, and we say a special prayer for these first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The Joneses, Slaters, Morgans and all of the families and loved ones of fallen officers must know that a grateful nation mourns your loss and shares your pain. Your family members' service to our country, and to their communities, will long be remembered with the utmost gratitude and respect.

The words of John F. Kennedy strike a cord this week, "a nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers." As these valiant men and women died because they made it their duty to protect and serve, it is our duty to honor and remember them for their selfless contribution to our communities.

The names of the following fallen officers from Maryland were officially added to the Memorial wall at a candlelight vigil on Friday, May 13, 2005:

Duke G Aaron III, Died July 20, 2004, Officer, Maryland Transportation Authority, P.D.; Anthony Jones, Died May 9, 2004, Trooper First Class, Maryland State Police; John Richards, Died September 14, 1871, Detective, Baltimore City, Maryland, P.D.; Brian Dont Winder, Died July 3, 2004, Police Officer, Baltimore City, Maryland, P.D.; and George Workner, Died March 15, 1808, Night Watchman, Baltimore City, Maryland, P.D.

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