May 15 of each year is designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week as National Police Week. This year, Police Week is observed May 12 – 18. Tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world travel to Washington DC to participate in events that honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Police Officer Jim Hurley joined the Battle Ground Police Department in September of 2018 after retiring from the Portland Police Bureau. Jim attended National Police Week and the Peace Officers Memorial Day Ceremony in Washington, D.C. last year. He graciously shares his experiences with us in this moving written account:
Prior to joining the Battle Ground Police Department, I served as a member of the Portland Police Bureau for 25 years. As a volunteer member of Portland’s Honor Guard from 1996 – 2006, I attended far too many funeral services for fallen police officers. In 1996, one of our own, Officer Thomas Jeffries was killed in the line of duty.
Beginning that year, the Bureau offered Honor Guard members and survivors of fallen officers, the opportunity to attend National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day in Washington DC. I never made the journey as a member of the Honor Guard, but in 2018, after I retired from the Bureau, I attended Police Week in Washington DC for the first time. I traveled with my wife and other members of Portland’s Honor Guard. I wish I had taken the time to make the trip much earlier in my career because of the impact it had on my mental and emotional connection to this profession.
Sadly, because Washington DC is on the other side of the country, most West Coast police officers miss out on the events of this memorial week. Attending the Candle Light Vigil and the reading of the Roll Call of all of the fallen officers being added to “The Wall” for the previous year, was a humbling experience and a stark reminder of the level of commitment and sacrifice that Police Officers are asked to make in the performance of our duties. Listening to the President of the United States and other high ranking officials of our great nation recognize those sacrifices and honor the families of the fallen was a memory I will not soon forget.
Spending National Police week in DC, connecting with Police Officers from around the country made me more aware of the bonds of brotherhood we cops often talk about. It brought new and deeper meaning to my understanding of “The Thin Blue Line” and what that represents.
This year, I will be attending National Police Week again, but this time as a representative of the Battle Ground Police Department. In light of our recent loss of Deputy Justin DeRosier of the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Department, a brother from so close to home, the need to pay my respect and honor all of the fallen has never felt more important.
Officer Jim Hurley
Local communities across the nation also observe Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week. Members of the Battle Ground Police Department will participate in the annual Clark County Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 11 am, outdoors at the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin Street in downtown Vancouver. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
Flags at City of Battle Ground facilities will be lowered to half-staff on May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day, in honor of all law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.