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Honoring fallen officers
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On October 1, 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726, declaring the week containing May 15 as "National Police Week." It was also officially pronounced that each year, May 15, itself, is "Peace Officers' Memorial Day."

National Police Week calls attention to the duties, responsibilities and sacrifices of all peace officers. It also reminds officers of their duty to serve the people by protecting their lives and property, and to apprehend criminals who harm others.

During National Police Week, special recognition is given to officers killed in the line of duty. This occurs on May 15, with ceremonies taking place across the country. Here in Stanislaus County, citizens and law enforcement personnel will conduct memorial ceremonies for fallen officers today at Lakewood Memorial Park. Since 1949, 12 peace officers have been killed in this county. The last one to die in the line of duty was California Highway Patrol Officer Earl Scott, who was gunned down during a traffic stop on Feb. 17, 2006. It is our intention to honor those who died in the line of duty for their fellow citizens, but it is also to pay respects and to express appreciation to the survivors of the officers killed. Their sacrifice is incalculable, and while these ceremonies summon up the pain of having lost the loved one, it is important that not one of these heroes is ever forgotten. It is only right to remember them in formal fashion, complete with ceremony and the full dignity that our country's fallen officers so richly deserve.

The U.S has approximately 660,000 peace officers. Of these, close to 411,000 are "local," like city police officers, 153,000 are deputy sheriffs who are typically employed by county governments and there are approximately 54,600 state officers, that are typically referred to as state troopers, highway patrol officers, and state police officers. Of the 660,000 officers, approximately 70,000 are women.

Each year, the police handle some 1.5 million violent crimes. Property crimes are close to 10 million each year, and then there are untold millions of crimes, both violent and property, that go unreported. The number of traffic citations issued and collisions investigated are in the tens of millions. The police in this country are a busy lot. And as they perform their duties, too many end up being shot, stabbed, choked, poisoned, burned, run over, clubbed or beaten. In 2008, 187 officers were killed nationwide. The number may seem small, but when one keeps in mind that these people are civilian "peace keepers," in a supposedly civilized environment, that 187 were killed in the line of duty is both tragic and shameful. And the number of officers killed hardly tells the story about the dangers officers face on a day-to-day basis. Each year, thousands of officers suffer crippling injuries, with many of those ending up as permanent disabilities.

Police officers accept the hazards they face every day with the knowledge that they have extraordinary responsibilities. In spite of the fact that officers are committed to a career that brings the potential for making the ultimate sacrifice, society should never view them as being "expendable" or otherwise taken for granted. They are tough and will not shrink from danger or adversity. But at the same time, it should be understood that these public servants are not to be touched, struck or abused, for they are the thin blue line that protects the rest of us from anarchy and out-of-control-crime. I am proud to work with the fine officers of Ceres and in the profession as a whole. I am grateful that we honor officers each year and to pay homage to those who gave their lives in the protection of their fellow citizens.