By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District
In addition to upholding our state and federal constitutions, one of my top priorities as a Michigan senator is to help enact laws that ensure the safety of residents of the 15th Senate District and the entire state.
Because protecting fellow Michiganders is an important part of my job, I have the utmost respect for those whose entire jobs consist of keeping us safe: our police officers.
In the United States today, more than 900,000 law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of others.
These officers serve with valor and distinction — and with great success. Federal statistics show that violent and property crime rates in the United States are at historic lows, thanks in large measure to the dedicated service of the men and women of law enforcement.
That protection comes at a price, however. Each year, there are approximately 60,000 assaults on law enforcement officers, resulting in nearly 16,000 injuries. Sadly, over the last decade, an average of 146 officers a year have been killed in the line of duty. And throughout U.S. history, more than 20,000 law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
More recently, there have been 44 police fatalities in the United States from Jan. 1 through May 1, an increase of 29 percent from the same time last year. In Detroit, eight police officers have been shot or killed in the line of duty in the past eight months.
Police officers have one of the most difficult jobs imaginable, and they deserve our honor and respect. In 1962, President Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. This year, Police Week runs from Sunday, May 14 to Saturday, May 20.
Each year, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, D.C. to participate in a number of planned events honoring those who have given their lives protecting us.
This year’s events included the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, held on Monday at the U.S. Capitol; and the National Police Survivors Conference and C.O.P.S. Kids/Teens event, held Tuesday. This second event allowed surviving family members and co-workers more opportunities to learn about coping and grief, and to build important social connections. Various activities were provided to young children and teens of fallen officers.
We must do all that we can to support our police brothers and sisters, to help reduce the senseless violence that too often takes their lives, and to help ensure that their lives have not been in vain.
Police Week grants us time to reflect on, support and honor the service and sacrifice of our law enforcement officers. Here in Michigan and in Oakland County, take some time to thank your local police officers for all they do to keep us safe. To learn more, visit policeweek.org.
This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.