“Why would you hold a dinner about suicide during Police Week?”
That question has been posed to me many times before and after the dinner, the answer is simple.
“Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate May 15, 1963, and May 15th of each succeeding year, as Peace Officers Memorial Day, in honor of those peace officers who, through their courageous deeds, have lost their lives or have become disabled in the performance of duty.
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I also designate the week of May 12th through May 18th, 1963, and the calendar week during which May 15th occurs of each succeeding year, as Police Week, in recognition of the service given by the men and women who, night and day, protect us through enforcement of our laws.
I invited State and local governments, patriotic, civic, and educational organizations, and the people of the United States generally, to observe Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week in this year and each succeeding year …
With appropriate ceremonies in which all our people may join in commemorating law enforcement officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities, and, in so doing, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens.”
Fallen officers hold a special place in our lives and hearts, their last breath was taken while in uniform or, as a result of wearing the uniform. We hold them up because they hold us together. May 15th has been set aside for their honor, it has also been set aside for the disabled, but we rarely see them.
The week of May 12th through May 18th has been set aside for ALL peace officers, living, disabled, deceased and with every injury possible, including emotional injuries. They also hold us together.
Why did we bring 40 families (injured and lost to suicide) to Police Week, put them up in a hotel, treat them to a formal dinner and give them lifelong connections with others who have experienced the same loss? Because that is the essence of Police Week.
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Police Week is a celebration, somber ceremony and opportunity to draw strength from others who understand the sacrifices of the profession. This is exactly where the families belong. Many at Police Week have lost a comrade to suicide, arguably more will know an officer lost to suicide than one who has been feloniously killed by another.
How did it turn out? The air was heavy with emotion: joy of meeting others, grief over those they lost, gratitude for being recognized and an overwhelming feeling of progress.
One hundred, sixty-five (165) candles were lit for the officers lost to suicide in 2018. Photos of the officers whose families were in attendance were prominently displayed by the stage. The families arrived and departed unnoticed by anyone but the Blue H.E.L.P. team who received texts as their planes landed.
These officers lost to suicide – what words can describe them? Chief, Lieutenant, Sargent, Corrections Officer, Patrolman, Detective, Decorated Officer, FTO, SRO, A Cop’s Cop, Top Cop, Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Son, Daughter, Aunt, Uncle, Friend … the words are endless and do you know who they describe?
Describe the officer next to you and I know I can provide you with the name and face of an officer just like him/her who took their own life.
So why did we bring them to Police Week? Because that’s where they belong. And yes, we will be back next year, with more injured officers, more families who lost officers to suicide and more acceptance.
We will overcome the stigma for both groups of families by looking them full in the face and saying, “Thank You”.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
Editor’s note: This heartfelt message was written by Karen Solomon, the leader of Blue H.E.L.P. You can learn more about this fine organization here: https://bluehelp.org/. CopBlue believes that preventing the suicides of Street Cops is a mainstay of our goals and aspirations. We want this story to reach as many of our brothers and sisters in blue as is humanly possible.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and allowing us to share this touching message with you. Our editor can be contacted via email with questions or input: Email Editor