National Police Week is celebrated on whatever week May 15 falls in, under President Kennedy’s decree to honor the men and women who risk their lives every day in the line of duty — it takes place from May 15 to 21 this year. It is also a time for police officers to honor their fallen colleagues, make sure those surviving them are supported, as well as to remember their commitment to keeping people safe. Citizens and civilians can also celebrate the day by showing some love and gratitude to the policemen around them. National Police Week is all about honor, gratitude, remembrance, servitude, and peer support.
History of National Police Week
National Police Week was created in 1962; after then-president of the United States, John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726. The law designated May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and stated that the week in which the day falls should be National Police Week. Every year, the National Law Enforcement Officers organize a Memorial Service to honor police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Law enforcement has existed for centuries, although its officers haven’t always been known as ‘Police.’ In Ancient China, they were called ‘prefects.’ Old Babylonians called them ‘Paqūdu.’ In the Inca Empire, they called officials who held the roles of magistrates ‘Curaca.’ Inspectors or lower-level governors were called ‘Toqrikoq.’
The first centrally organized and uniformed police force was created during King Louis XIV’s reign in Paris in 1667. In 17th century Colonial America, the most important law enforcement official was the county sheriff. In 1789, the United States Marshals Service was established, and other federal law enforcement agencies started popping up, such as the U.S. Parks Police. However, the first organized and publicly-funded professional full-time police force wasn’t established until 1838 in Boston.
The United States police force has developed since then to become a powerful one, with dedicated officers. The goal of National Police Week is to honor and celebrate these officers. Individuals and governments have a responsibility to honor their brave and hardworking law enforcement on this day. In October 2020, the United States approved legislation authorizing the construction of a national law enforcement museum on federal property directly across the street from the law enforcement officers’ memorial.
National Police Week timeline
The first law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in the United States is Constable Darius Quimby.
President John F. Kennedy signs a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which the date falls as National Police Week.
The National Peace Officers Memorial Service begins as a gathering of about 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement in Senate Park.
President Bill Clinton amends Kennedy’s declaration by signing a law directing that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff in all government buildings on May 15 every year.
National Police Week FAQs
Who is in charge of the U.S. police?
The police force in the United States is led by the Chief of Police, who is the highest-ranking officer in the police department. The Chief of Police is usually selected from the ranks of deputy police chiefs who have a college degree and at least 12 years of law enforcement experience.
Who spends the most on police in the U.S.?
Although the money for policing in the United States comes from all the tiers of government, most police spending comes from local governments. Police funding is the second largest category of local government spending after education. In 2017, local governments accounted for about 87% of police spending.
What does “boys in blue” refer to?
The phrase “boys in blue” is commonly used to refer to police officers, especially in the United States. The origin of the term is probably related to the blue color of the uniforms typically worn by police officers and the fact that the police force used to be strictly male.
How to Observe National Police Week
Hold a vigil for the fallen
You can attend the official memorial service held for fallen police officers in Washington, D.C. Even if you can’t make it down to D.C., you can organize a memorial service or vigil of your own or simply light a candle in honor of the fallen police officers you know.
Appreciate a local police officer
Police work can sometimes be a thankless job. You can take some time out during National Police Week to appreciate your favorite local police officer. Find out how you could help out, whether it is by giving them a meal during a long night shift or just writing a thoughtful note to keep them going.
Get decked in blue
If you didn’t already know, blue is the color used to symbolize the United States police force. During National Police Week, you can get decked in blue to show your support for the officers who have devoted their lives to keeping us safe.
5 Important Facts About The U.S. Police Force
900,000 officers in blue
There are over 900,000 police officers serving in the U.S., the highest number the country has ever seen.
Over 20,000 gone
Since 1791, over 20,000 law enforcement officers in the U.S. have been killed while on duty, with their names engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
The deadliest year
1930 was the deadliest year in United States police history, with over 310 officers killed in the line of duty
The United States has almost 18,000 separate police agencies, with each one having its internal structure and regulations.
Over 100,000 women in blue
Around 12% of the full-time police officers in the United States are women.
Why National Police Week is Important
The fallen need to be remembered
National Police Week allows us to honor the police officers who have lost their lives or limbs in the course of duty. It allows the country to honor their sacrifice, remember their good deeds, and show support for their families.
Police officers risk their lives everyday
Police officers put themselves in dangerous situations constantly in their quest to ensure we have a safe world. The least we can do is dedicate one week out of the 52 weeks in a year to appreciate their efforts and cheer them on.
It’s all about support
At the heart of it, National Police Week is all about support. Police officers get to honor and mourn their lost partners and colleagues, the police force shows its support for the families of lost officers, and civilians get to support the police by appreciating them.
National Police Week dates