‘End of watch’; flags fly at half-staff for fallen police officers

2018 file photo of Police officers reacting during a funeral service for fallen police officer Sgt. Terrence Carraway in Florence, S.C., Oct. 8, 2018. Carraway was killed in the line of duty Oct. 3, 2018. More police officers have died in the line of duty this year than in 2017, according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. | Associated Press file Photo by Richard Shiro, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Gov. Gary R. Herbert has ordered flags to be lowered Wednesday in recognition of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

2016 file photo of over 40 police officers attending the “Honor and Thank Law Enforcement” gathering at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George, Utah, July 10, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Both the U.S. and Utah flag will be flown at half-staff at all state facilities and public grounds from sunrise until sunset. Individuals and businesses are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time, in accordance with President Donald Trump’s proclamation, Herbert said in a statement released Tuesday.

The White House released the proclamation last week. “Our Nation’s law enforcement officers serve with courage, dedication, and strength,” President Donald Trump said. “They fearlessly enforce our laws, even at the risk of personal peril, safeguarding our property, our liberty, and our lives.”

Police departments throughout Washington and Iron counties are flying the flag at half-staff, as St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin said, “in a show of respect and to honor those who have lost their lives serving their communities.”

Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams shared similar comments, and mentioned that too many police officers lives’ are lost not only in Utah, but across the nation each year. The Washington City Police Department is participating “just to honor our fallen officers.”

This year, there have been 42 police officers killed in the line of duty nationwide, one of which was a Provo Police officer, Joseph William Shinners, who was killed in the line of duty Jan. 5  trying to apprehend a wanted fugitive near a shopping center in Orem. He was promoted to Master Police Officer shortly after his death, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Read more: Police agencies across Utah mourn death of Provo police officer

Additionally, five K-9’s have been killed in the line of duty nationwide so far this year.

“When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation,” said Chris Cosgriff, who founded the nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring America’s fallen law enforcement heroes.

In 2018, 163 police officers lost their lives nationwide, according to Officer Down, and 28 K-9’s were killed.

The organization has also tracked the number of police officers killed since 1791 when the first federal police agency was formed. Since then, more than 23,700 confirmed line-of-duty deaths have been reported in the U.S., 130 of which were reported in Utah during that same period.

Peace Officers Memorial Day – National Police Week

The National Park Service announces National Police Week that runs week of May 23-18 | Image courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week, when tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, D.C. to participate in a number of planned events to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, according to Concerns of Police Survivors, (COPS). 

The Memorial Service began in 1982 as a gathering  of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement in Senate Park and is now commonly known as National Police Week.

Decades later, the event has grown to a series of events which attracts 25,000-40,000 survivors and law enforcement officers each year.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton using the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, directed that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff on all government buildings on May 15 each year.

“We owe them, and their families, our full and enduring support,” Trump said in the statement.

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