Police from all over the U.S. gather to honor the fallen

New York State Police officers render a salute during Sunday\'s memorial and wreath-laying ceremony for fallen law enforcement officers. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

WASHINGTON – The steely resolve that law enforcement officers assume on the job gets peeled back a bit during National Police Week.

A wreath-laying ceremony on Sunday at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, in Judiciary Square in Northwest, served as a reminder both of the dangers of the job and the camaraderie that comes with it.

“To see the support of the individuals who show up here every year, it’s just overwhelming,” says Matt Lutz, an officer from Ohio whose father was killed in the line of duty.

Like others, he paused to trace names engraved in the wall of the memorial.

“When I came here this morning, I actually had to take a step back and compose myself,” says Chris Sullivan, an officer with the Cambridge Police Department. “It’s now personal,” he says. “Especially over the last month, it’s a greater meaning.”

Sullivan and officers who traveled with him wore Boston jerseys to honor those who responded to the Marathon bombing last month.

“Everybody’s stopping us in the streets (with) just a simple ‘Thank you, strong work out there, great job,'” he says.

This is the third year Sullivan has come to the events in Washington, but he says an officer’s death back home has added extra significance to the memorial: Sean Collier, an MIT campus police officer, was shot to death after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Law enforcement families attend the week’s events to honor for the fallen and reinforce commitment to each other.

Stacy Lewis came to support her husband, a police officer in Lakeland, Fla. She was away from her children on Mother’s Day, but says she texted them saying “I missed them on Mother’s Day but that I was here honoring men and women who could not be with their children and their parents.”

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