DC vigil to honor more than 700 fallen law enforcement officers

The names of more than 700 law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty since 2019 will be formally dedicated to D.C.’s National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on Thursday.

With the addition of 701 names this year, the total number of officers honored at the National Mall memorial wall climbed to 22,611 since its dedication 30 years ago. Their lives and service will be marked with a final roll call of honor on Thursday evening.

“The stories behind each of the 701 new names that we officially add to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial tonight are so special,” Marcia Ferranto, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, said in a news release.

“To pay them proper tribute, each of their names will be read as a part of the ceremony and will be forever etched on the walls of the memorial and in the hearts of an eternally grateful nation. To them and the families that they represent, and to all law enforcement professionals who serve each day to protect us, thank you.”

Among those being memorialized are 434 officers who died in 2019 and 2020. In-person events scheduled for this May were postponed to October’s extended National Police Weekend due to COVID-19 concerns.

Missing from the 701 new names are the four local officers who died by suicide in the weeks and months following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots: Capitol police officer Howard Liebengood; and D.C. officers Jeffrey Smith, Kyle DeFreytag and Gunther Hashida.

Their absence has reignited a debate over what constitutes a job-related death and eligibility for inclusion among the memorial’s names.

Thursday’s ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. on the National Mall, and will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube.

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