The idea of a Peace Officers Memorial Day came into effect on Oct. 1, 1961, when Congress asked the president to designate May 15 to honor law enforcement officers. President John F. Kennedy signed the bill into law on Oct. 1, 1962. Each year, the president proclaims May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the calendar week of each year when May 15 occurs as Police Week.
According to the Legal Information Institute, the president is requested to issue a proclamation to designate May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day. Government officials display the U.S. flag at half staff on all government buildings, and invite state and local governments and the people to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
So how do we honor our fallen comrades? There are several ways, but one significant symbol of our appreciation for their sacrifice is the Thin Blue Line.
The Thin Blue Line is a symbol that looks like a black rectangle with a blue line running horizontally through the center, separating the black rectangle into two halves. The symbol is used by law enforcement, and originated in the United Kingdom, but is now prevalent in the United States and Canada to commemorate fallen law enforcement officers, and to symbolize the relationship of law enforcement in the community as the protectors of civilians from criminal elements.
Each stripe on the emblem represents certain respective figures: the blue center line signifies law enforcement, the top black stripe represents the public, and the bottom represents criminals.
The concept behind the graphic is law enforcement (the blue line) is what stands between the violence and victimization caused by criminals and the public we have sworn to protect. As officers, we take great pride in serving the people of California.
On May 5, we honored our local heroes in Fresno County who died in the line of duty. In 2015, the CHP was blessed to not lose one officer. Unfortunately, in early 2016, we lost Officer Nathan Taylor as he directed traffic at a collision scene.
If you ever have a chance to go to Courthouse Park in downtown Fresno, please do so and take a moment to read the names of these officers. The memorial is located at Van Ness Avenue and Tulare Avenue, in front of the Fresno County Courthouse.
Also in May, the CHP recognizes the brave men and women of the department who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. During the Badges of Honor ceremony, the names of each of the 226 CHP officers killed are read aloud.
During the ceremony a memorial bell is rung seven times for the seven points on the CHP badge representing character, integrity, judgment, loyalty, courtesy, honor and knowledge.
These 226 men and women dedicated their lives to the safety and service of all Californians in the CHP’s 87 years of service. We are never able to pay enough respect to these officers and their families who gave the ultimate sacrifice.