Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from Acting U.S. Attorney Leonard C. Boyle in recognition of National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day.
This is National Police Week, a time our nation sets aside each year to recognize the significant contributions and extraordinary work of local, state, federal and Tribal law enforcement in keeping our communities and those in them safe.
In 1962, President Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week to remember and honor law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifices. Peace Officers Memorial Day, which every year falls on May 15, specifically honors law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
According to national statistics, 285 law enforcement officers were killed in the line-of-duty in 2020. Approximately 60 percent of these officers lost their lives to COVID-19, which was contracted during their on-duty service in their communities. Additionally, the Law Enforcement Officer Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program reports that 46 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts and 47 died in accidents.
Although Connecticut is fortunate to have avoided a law enforcement line-of-duty death this past year, throughout our history 152 officers have died while on duty and serving those living in Connecticut.
Each one of these deaths is a stark reminder of the level of dedication and good work members of law enforcement selflessly perform every day. The dangers of this important profession are present in our state and remain constant to our law enforcement officers. They see it in a variety of ways when responding to situations involving domestic violence, shootings, assaults, homicides, drug related violence, robberies and other calls for help. This deserves our gratitude and support.
National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day also remind us about the need for officer wellness. Law enforcement is a deeply stressful profession, a stress that is compounded when their many good works become overshadowed by reports of those officers who unlawfully choose to abuse their authority and betray their peacekeeper oath.
Constant, multiple pressures can take a toll and have a cumulating effect over time. As a result, officers suffer increased heart disease, stress disorders, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), depression, and alcohol abuse, to name a few. Stigma and job loss can create barriers and cause officers to avoid seeking help. In 2020, 172 officers across our nation died by suicide.
In 2021, 56 officers have already taken their own life. We support and encourage officers to seek the help they need and have earned.
Please join me in honoring these officers who have sacrificed their lives for our safety, and remember their families and loved ones who continue to endure their loss.