Each April, the National Peace Officer Memorial Foundation begins the process of intricately engraving new names of fallen officers onto the marble walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. It is a solemn time, for each new name carved on the wall is another tragic story of an officer who made the ultimate sacrifice for their community. Those stories will always be remembered on this wall.
This year, the names of 371 fallen law enforcement officers will be added—158 of which are the names of officers we lost in the line of duty last year. Two hundred and thirteen are the names of officers who fell in years prior who are now being recognized.
On May 13, the names will be officially dedicated during the 31st Annual Candlelight Vigil. Those who can’t make it to Washington, DC to experience the Vigil in person can still honor a fallen law enforcement officer by lighting a Virtual Candle and leaving a personalized message.
After you light a virtual candle in honor of a special officer make sure to register to watch the Vigil webcast with your friends and family on May 13. The Vigil webcast will be available live on Monday, May 13, at 8:00 pm ET.
Help us honor the 900,000 law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day for the safety and protection of others.
Paul Kelly, President San Jose POA and Rob Harris is President of Protect California.
A safe and respectful encounter. Every single time. California public safety officers have this goal in mind whenever they interact with a member of the public or respond to an emergency. Period. To continue to improve outcomes for officers and the community, we believe that the best path forward is to modernize police training, establish clear use of force standards, and create holistic policies to ensure neighborhood safety.
Currently, there are competing bills in the California Legislature focused on use of force. Only one of those bills is part of a comprehensive plan that will reduce uses of force and officer involved shooting incidents. The other is focused on further criminalizing split-second decisions made by public safety officers in crisis situations. One is based upon factual data and science with the goal of preventing as many tragic incidents as possible, while the other is based upon retribution and second guessing after a tragic incident has occurred.
We support Senate Bill 230, authored by Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, because this legislation is designed to reduce uses of force by mirroring policing best practices and training. It also modernizes California’s use of force law to fully comply with existing U.S. Supreme Court rulings on when force is legally allowed.
Creating good public policy begins with good data. The Washington Post’s fatal police shooting national database, started in 2015, is often cited as the authority for tracking the number of officer-involved shooting incidents. Nationally, between 2015 and 2018, the number of these incidents has remained stable at just under 1,000 each year.
To put these numbers in context, according to criminologist Justin Nix from the University of Nebraska Omaha, in 2015 there were 50 million occasions where officers engaged with the public. Of those 50 million occasions, 995 resulted in a fatal encounter. That is 0.00002 percent of interactions with the public.
In California specifically, there was a 40 percent decrease in fatal police shootings between 2015-2018. These incidents were tragic and many involved individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Although this decrease is good news, we must strive to do more.
That is why we worked with Caballero on SB 230. It establishes a clear and enforceable standard for authorizing the use of force, standardizes use of force training and enacts evidence-based policies to minimize use of force in California. For example, SB 230 mandates that all law enforcement agencies adopt policies on de-escalation, mental health training and requirements that an officer intercede if they witness excessive force.
We can do more.
Protect California, a non-profit organization, believes we can reduce dangerous encounters and improve the safety of our neighborhoods by taking a more holistic approach to crime reduction. Our plan addresses the root causes of crime by pulling virtually every public policy lever available to ensure positive outcomes between public safety officers and the communities they serve.
As a state, we must do more by:
Policing is complicated. We should stop pretending that there’s one single solution to reduce police use of force incidents. If we address the root causes of crime, provide officers with high-quality training and enact strong policies, and reduce access to guns by violent criminals and the mentally ill, we will make California safer for everyone.
Julie Robertson is a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Bullets travel 2,500 feet per second. That doesn’t leave much time for police to debate various response scenarios and second-guess their decisions when confronted by deadly force.
But that’s precisely what Assembly Bill 392 would require. The lawmakers backing this misguided legislation are demanding that we do the impossible — or die trying. If we don’t, AB 392 threatens us with prison for making split-second decisions when lives are at risk. This is dangerous and unreasonable. I know from personal experience.
I’m a Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy who survived a “split-second” encounter in which I was shot and my partner was killed. It happened fast, but it’s a nightmare that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
My partner and I had responded to a call about a disturbance at a local auto store, in which an unruly customer was causing trouble. When we arrived on scene, we approached the subject inside the store. There was no indication he was armed or had a weapon.
As we approached, he immediately backed up and began moving erratically, as though he were preparing to run. My partner headed toward the front door to block him, while I tried to stop him from the opposite side. Suddenly, there was a gun, followed almost immediately by a deafening boom as the suspect fired.
What followed was a terrifying and deadly firefight. The subject shot my partner in the head and back, then continued firing. I immediately returned fire and took action to defend my partner, the store’s employees and customers, and people in the neighboring stores. I was shot but kept fighting. Like every cop I know, I take my sworn oath to protect and serve seriously.
But under AB 392, my decision to stay and protect customers and other “innocents” could be challenged and second-guessed, with criminal prosecution a very real possibility for me. Why didn’t I retreat? That was clearly an option.
Perhaps the shooter would have simply left. Of course he might also have shot every other person in the store, then continued his deadly rampage in neighboring stores. I had seconds to decide without the luxury of hindsight, under deadly and chaotic circumstances in which people were dying.
AB 392 is Monday-morning-quarterbacking at its worst — legislation that second-guesses public safety decisions based on emotion rather than reality. Rather than helping police make better decisions by improving training and clarifying use-of-force policies, AB 392 takes a punitive approach that turns cops into criminals while eroding our fundamental right to defend ourselves.
By slowing police decision-making in deadly situations when split seconds count, AB 392 endangers the lives of police and the safety of the people and communities we protect. AB 392 pretends to be about reforming the system. Instead, what it really does is ask officers to protect the public with both hands tied behind their backs.
I have shared many articles about SB230 and opposition to AB392 over the last couple months. These two bills are some of the most important we have dealt with in our profession in many years. Its sad to think – that politicians with a political agenda are willing to forego the safety of the people who elect them. Their political bank accounts intimidate others in their party to just ‘go along,’ with the majority. We must organize and stand up against that.
I commend the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, who on April 9, took a position and adopted a resolution in favor of SB230 and opposition of AB392. Similarly, the Fresno City Council passed the same resolution on April 25. The hope is these two resolutions send the message to Sacramento - the Fresno region doesn’t agree with your political rhetoric in the leftist party. Their message is all cops are corrupt and commit homicides. I’m sorry, but if Assemblywoman Ms. Shirley Weber sat as an elected in our region – this association would create a special project to get her unseated and expose her real agenda.
I hope to see many of you at the Peace Officer Memorial in Courthouse Park – Noon May 2, 2019 honoring our fallen officers. Also remember the FDSA will host our annual Peace Officer Memorial Event at the FDSA that same day from 5:30pm-8:30pm. This is a time for family of our fallen and co-workers to come together in our own special remembrance.