The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

May 14, 2014

Candlelight vigil to honor 9 on end of watch list

A solemn tribute

— As darkness descends on downtown Athens Thursday night, officers will light candles in memory of nine lives whose names are etched in granite.

The Athens Police Department will hold a memorial at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the Limestone County Courthouse lawn at 8 p.m. Thursday. This will be in honor of National Police Week to remember law enforcement officers in Limestone County who lost their lives in the line of duty.

“This is the first time we have conducted a candlelight vigil,” Chief Floyd Johnson said. “This will be a short and solemn ceremony, a time for us to pause and remember those who sacrificed their lives protecting our community.”

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, on average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 58 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 20,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.

There has been a 26 percent increase in law enforcement fatalities between May 14, 2013, and May 14 of this year, according to NLEOMF. There have been 48 fatalities so far in that time frame. There has been one fatality in Alabama this year.

For the nine names on the local Law Enforcement Memorial, their end of watch came as they were doing routine duties such as transporting blood, answering a 911 call, checking on a person’s welfare and patrolling a highway.

“Our officers risk their lives daily doing similar routine duties,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “I ask our citizens to join us for this ceremony and take a moment to say ‘thank you’ to those who serve now and pay tribute to those who are no longer with us.”

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