Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook Recognizes National Police Week
SHREVEPORT/LAFAYETTE/ALEXANDRIA/LAKE CHARLES/MONROE, LA (STL.News) In honor of National Police Week, Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook recognizes the service and sacrifice of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement. This year, the week is observed Sunday, May 9 through Saturday, May 15, 2021.
“Police Week is an opportunity for us to honor our law enforcement officers in Louisiana and across the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook. “The men and women who serve as law enforcement officers are the unsung heroes in our communities today. They work long hours for little pay and put their lives on the line every single day when they put on their uniform to go out into our communities and serve and protect us as citizens from those who choose to reject the rule of law in our nation. We support and honor these officers who continue to work despite the adversity that they face each day. This week please join me in saying ‘thank you’ to these police officers for their sacrifices and in remembering those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”
“This week is a time to honor our law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. “I am constantly inspired by the extraordinary courage and dedication with which members of law enforcement act each day, putting their lives on the line to make our communities safer. To members of law enforcement and your families: we know that not a single day, nor a single week, is enough to recognize your service and sacrifice. On behalf of the entire Department of Justice, you have our unwavering support and eternal gratitude.”
In 1962, President Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week to remember and honor law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifices. Peace Officers Memorial Day, which every year falls on May 15, specifically honors law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Each year, during National Police Week, our nation celebrates the contributions of law enforcement from around the country, recognizing their hard work, dedication, loyalty, and commitment to keeping our communities safe. This year the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted law enforcement officers’ courage and unwavering devotion to the communities that they have sworn to serve.
During the Roll Call of Heroes, a ceremony coordinated by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), more than 300 officers will be honored. Based on data submitted to and analyzed by the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), of the law enforcement officers who died nationwide in the line of duty in 2020, nearly 60 percent succumbed to COVID-19. Here in the Western District of Louisiana, six officers died in the line of duty. The officers who lost their lives are as follows:
Donna Michelle Richardson-Below with the Desoto Parish Sheriff’s Office died on February 12, 2020 in an automobile crash while on duty;
Kejuane Artez Bates with the Vidalia Police Department died on April 1, 2020 from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty;
Kevin Paul Trahan with the Church Point Police Department died on July 31, 2020 after contracting COVID-19 during a confirmed exposure at the Church Point Police Department building on June 26, 2020;
Claude Winston Guillory with the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office died on August 4, 2020 from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in a presumed exposure while on duty;
Randy Michael Vallot with the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office died on September 23, 2020 after contracting COVID-19 as the result of a confirmed exposure during an outbreak within the agency; and
Marshall Lee Waters, Jr. with the Mangham Police Department died on November 5, 2020 as the result of a gunshot wound sustained during a traffic stop near the Franklin/Richland Parish border.
According to statistics reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through the Law Enforcement Officer Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program, 46 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts and 47 died in accidents in 2020. LEOKA statistics can be found on FBI’s Crime Data Explorer website.
The names of the 394 fallen officers who have been added in 2020 to the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial will be read on Thursday, May 13, 2021, during a Virtual Candlelight Vigil, which will be livestreamed to the public at 7:00 pm CST. The Police Week in-person public events, originally scheduled for May, have been rescheduled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns to October 13-17, 2021. An in-person Candlelight Vigil event is scheduled for October 14, 2021.