If you have a police officer as a friend or family member, National Law Enforcement Day on January 9 is the perfect time to show officers we understand how difficult their job is. So it’s important to show officers how much we understand their difficult work and appreciate their sacrifice and risk.
History of National Law Enforcement Day
For a while the United States’ idea of law enforcement was fairly loose. The Wild West was, well, wild. And most states and cities didn’t consider emergency services like firefighters and police officers to be necessary until much later than most would think. In the mid 1800s, most law enforcement was carried out in the form of posse comitatus, where the sheriff and a posse of volunteers and deputies (much like the stereotypical Westerns of the 1960s) would enforce laws rather than a centralized police force.
Once the 20th century rolled around most larger cities, counties, and states had developed a centralized police or sheriff’s department. In doing so, most of the country slowly started to see a reduction in the “Wild West” and a more tame and domesticated America, despite many of the newly formed local authorities needing to pick sides in a rise of unionizing laborers going on strike.
Whether its civil unrest, labor strikes, huge sporting events, or just helping a cat get down from a tree, law enforcement officers are a critical part of our lives, woven into the everyday fabric of living in America. They keep our neighborhoods safe and help ensure that whatever it is you need to do, you can do with peace of mind.
National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was created by multiple organizations in 2015 to express their gratitude for officers in the United States. In support of their services citizens are encouraged to do their part in thanking the law enforcers on this day. One of the main organizations to take the lead in this is C.O.P.S – Concerns of Police Survivors. According to them, law enforcement officers need to be shown that the difficult career path they have chosen is recognized by the people who they protect and uphold the law for.
This holiday was triggered by the chain of events in 2014, when a police officer was involved in a crossfire shooting in Missouri. The backlash and violence that followed this event led C.O.P.S to take the initiative to change this negative portrayal of police officers in the news in recent years into a positive one. With over 900,000 officers in the United States, the organization believes it is essential to support law enforcers during difficult times, and a holiday dedicated to them does just that. The day also raises awareness on the importance of understanding that the difficult decisions taken by police officers are in the best interest of citizens and the law.
National Law Enforcement Day timeline
New York City is the first American city to establish a municipal police force.
Once again, New York leads the way with adopting the first detective unit.
Pennsylvania becomes the first state to establish a state police force, as recommended by Theodore Roosevelt to help control the numerous labor riots going on in the state's hill country.
Berkeley, California's police force gets ahead of the curve by adopting centralized and consistent training, communications, and order throughout its police force.
National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day Traditions
As the name suggests, the tradition on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is to express gratitude to your local law enforcement. People wear blue clothing in solidarity with police officers, write a letter or send a card to the local police department, share their positive experiences with law enforcers on social media, and abide strictly by the law as respect for their services. On the state and federal levels, a number of honorary ceremonies and award distributions are held for police officers and rangers.
National Law Enforcement Appreciation Stats
2.5 million – The number of residents who celebrated National Night Out with local law enforcement.
292 – The number of officers in the United States Mint Police.
46 – The number of officers feloniously killed in 2017
708,569 – The all-time-high number of law enforcement officers, which was in 2008.
626,942 – The lowest number of law enforcement officers, which was in 2013.
⅓ – The amount of a police officer’s time that is spent on enforcing criminal law
9 – The number of female police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2017
National Law Enforcement Day FAQs
When is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day?
How do I celebrate National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day?
Why do we celebration National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day?
National Law Enforcement Day Activities
Show support on social media and by wearing blue
To promote awareness of support for law enforcement on L.E.A.D., consider showing support on your social media outlets. Perhaps change your profile photo to a badge or a thin blue line logo. And you can wear blue on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day to show support. Not everyone knows a police officer personally, so social media is a good place to start making a difference.
Organize a Neighborhood Watch program
Although the National Crime Prevention Council oversees the Neighborhood Watch program, local law enforcement will work with you on setting up and running one of these programs in your neighborhood. Contact your local police department to receive some help in organizing a program.
Volunteer or donate to your local Crime Stoppers program
Local law enforcement agencies operate their Crime Stoppers programs, and they need donations and volunteers from the community to run them successfully. Some Crime Stoppers organizations even have oversight boards that are made up of community members. These boards often are involved in helping to determine rewards or in publicizing crimes where rewards are available. Contact your local law enforcement agency to see what kind of work is needed in this area or to attend a monthly meeting.
5 Facts About Police Officers
Law enforcement has come a long way.
In colonial America, due to a lack of authority, officers were not very effective at catching criminals. In fact, churches had more authority to hold trials.
The Japanese police once experimented with a Motorcycle Arresting Device for trapping biker gangs.
Hello Kitty as punishment
In Thailand, police officers are sometimes forced to wear Hello Kitty armbands for violations like showing up late to work.
Freeze! This is the Bobby!
In England, police officers are sometimes called ‘Bobbies.’ This name is in honor of the founder of the modern police department - Sir Robert Peel.
The 10 percent penalty tax on early withdrawals from a 401(k) plan do not apply to withdrawals made by a public safety employee, as defined by the IRS.
Why We Love National Law Enforcement Day
It’s a chance to see law enforcement personnel in another light
For most of us, our only interaction with law enforcement occurs when the officer asks us through our driver’s side window for our license and registration. But being an officer is about far more than handing out traffic tickets. National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is a great time to think about all of unselfish work that officers do to help people too. (And, technically, when the officer is handing you a ticket, he or she is helping others be safe from your poor driving … not that such thoughts are top of mind at the time.)
It’s a chance to thank someone for doing an often thankless job
Even though we should thank law enforcement officers more often than we do, we can at least use L.E.A.D. as a good reminder to do so. Verbal thanks are always welcome, as is picking up the tab when you see officers eating lunch at a local restaurant.
It’s a good excuse to watch some of our favorite police movies
Sure, most police movies and TV shows have little basis in reality. But a lot of them are really fun to watch. So after you’ve shown your appreciation to your local law enforcement officers, you can sit down and watch your favorite movie or TV show for a look at the working side of law enforcement, even if it’s not particularly realistic.
National Law Enforcement Day dates