Of those deaths, 182 were COVID-related. Ninety-nine died as far back as 1911, and their sacrifice is only now being recognized.
Each name serves as a reminder of the potential peril officers face every day.
“2020 is going to go down as one of the deadliest years for law enforcement,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Ferranto notes that the officers who died related to COVID-19 put themselves and their families at risk because they didn’t have the privilege of sheltering in place like the broader community. They did their duty, she said.
“Men and women are waking up every day putting their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Ferranto said. “What I would love for our nation to start doing as individuals – not communities, not regions, not states — as individuals: start speaking up in favor of law enforcement.”
Ferranto said the gesture of gratitude of telling an officer “Thank you” will help them continue to stay focused, feel good about what they’re doing and let them know they are appreciated.
Asked about the social unrest over the past year shining spotlights on some communities’ grievances, resentment and mistrust of police, Ferranto said the country should focus on good law enforcement.
“I think it is necessary for law enforcement to be looking inside. I know that they are here at the museum. We set the table for a lot of those conversations and we have incredible solution based leadership coming to the table – talking about how we can make communities safer. And, safer communities equal safer law enforcement,” Ferranto said.
Ferranto believes media has a role to play.
“Start talking about solutions and not the problem because that’s where we’re going to come together as a nation and that’s how we’re going to make it safer for communities and safer for law enforcement,” she said.
The National Law Enforcement Museum at 444 E St. in Northwest reopens Aug. 27 with a new exhibit called “Post 9/11” that explores how the terror attacks changed law enforcement over the past 20 years.
“We are really excited about that and we invite everyone to come visit to experience how we here at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum continue to honor law enforcement every day.”