Over the past decade, an average of 151 U.S. law enforcement officers per year have been killed in the line of duty. Approximately 60,000 officers are assaulted and 15,000 injured on an annual basis. Despite these dangers, more than 900,000 U.S. law enforcement officers continue to risk their lives for the safety of their communities. “It is an incredible story of service and sacrifice that, for the most part, has gone untold,” says Steve Groeninger, senior director of communications and marketing for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C.
Since its establishment in 1984, the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which provided these statistics, has been on a mission to tell the story of American law enforcement, honor the fallen, and make it safer for those who serve. “Whether it be through the memorial, through the museum or through the officer safety work we do,” Groeninger says. “These key initiatives all roll up to that overarching mission.”
It’s an important mission that Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon—in honor of its law enforcement customers—is proud to support. Since October 2014, 1% of Leica Geosystems’ product sales to public safety agencies, including 3D laser scanners, multistations, total stations, GNSS instruments, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), handheld distance measurement tools and software, has been donated to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. And Leica Geosystems recently pledged its ongoing support for 2019. “Through our sponsorship, we hope to raise awareness about the Memorial Fund and the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect others,” says Chuck Coiner, manager of Leica Geosystems’ Public Safety Group. “We are proud to support such a worthy cause.”
Telling the Story of American Law Enforcement
The New National Law Enforcement Museum
The Memorial Fund’s most recent initiative, the National Law Enforcement Museum, which opened in October 2018, tells the story of American law enforcement through a “walk in the shoes” experience. The museum features a collection of more than 21,000 artifacts representing every era of American law enforcement and showcases immersive, interactive exhibits that help visitors experience the real-life world of law enforcement.
Honoring the Fallen
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
For officers whose stories end in self-sacrifice, the organization erected the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial stands as a national tribute to those who’ve died in the line of duty. Since its dedication in 1991, more than 21,000 names have been engraved in its marble walls. And more are added every spring. To honor those newly inscribed names, an annual candlelight vigil and dedication ceremony is held every May 13 in conjunction with National Police Week.
Recently Fallen Alerts
The Memorial Fund tracks law enforcement fatalities across the nation on a daily basis. Whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty, a tribute is created and published through the Memorial Fund’s Recently Fallen Hero Alerts program. “If we hear today that a law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty,” Groeninger says, “we will find a news source for it, confirm it, and then we will put out an alert to about 15,000 subscribers that we have for our Recently Fallen alerts.”
Making it Safer for Those Who Serve
While the Recently Fallen Hero Alerts pay immediate tribute to officers who have died in the line of duty, a separate process determines which names will be engraved upon the Memorial’s wall. Personal and fatality data collected on an officer is not only used to determine whether the circumstances meet the Memorial Fund’s criteria but also, Groeninger explains, creates many levels of awareness that further the organization’s mission to make law enforcement safer for those who serve.
The Memorial Fund serves as a nationwide clearinghouse of information and statistics on law enforcement line-of-duty deaths. Its research department maintains a comprehensive fatality database and publishes regular reports examining trends and issues in officer fatalities. “We accumulate a large amount of data,” Groeninger says. “We’ll interpret that data, identify trends, identify key indicators and report in live time where we are with officer fatalities, how they are dying, how many of them are dying, where it’s happening, and other relevant data points.”
Public Awareness Campaigns
In an effort to reduce the high number of vehicle-related deaths, the Memorial Fund participates in a variety of public awareness programs aimed at keeping officers safe on the roadways. In 2012, it partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to promote the Drive Safely campaign and again in 2015 to educate the public on Move Over laws. “It’s one of those laws that I find so many people have no idea what it is or that it’s even on the books in their state,” Groeninger says. “There’s a lot of exciting work that we can do with NHTSA on getting the word out on Move Over laws to positively impact both citizens and peace officer safety itself.”
Keeping the Vision Alive
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund receives no taxpayer funding for its day-to-day operations. Its vision is kept alive through the united efforts and contributions of like-minded individuals and organizations, including Leica Geosystems. “We can’t conduct our important work without the support of individuals, businesses and corporations throughout the U.S. in addition to law-enforcement-supportive organizations and associations and the departments themselves,” Groeninger says. “There’s just no way we could do it.”
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For more information on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, visit www.nleomf.org. For information about how your technology investment will help support the Memorial Fund, please contact us.