Police Roll of Honour - Lest We Forget

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National Police Officers Roll of Honour

Honouring and Remembering British Police Officers who Lost their Lives in the Line of Duty ~ Lest we Forget

Article June 2002

Anthony Rae, Chairman of the Police Roll of Honour Trust charity reports on a recent visit to USA Police Memorial Week in Washington organised by the Trust's new Vice-Chairman Jim McNulty


USA POLICE WEEK, C.O.P.S. AND THE

NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS MEMORIAL

Description: NLEOM Badge


A visit to America for Police Memorial Week by two Trustees of the Police Roll of Honour Trust could result in a similar annual event being set up here to remember UK officers killed in the line of duty.

The American Police Memorial Week takes place in May of each year in Washington DC, and is attended by approximately 30,000 uniformed officers from across the USA. They attend various events along with the surviving families of those officers killed in the line of duty during the previous year. The week encompasses many events aimed at showing the families that police officers and the public share their loss. These range from a Candlelight Vigil to the Police Memorial Day service, addressed by the President of the United States. The latter event sees the entire area around the Capitol filled with uniformed officers, watching as the President lays a wreath, to which each surviving family adds a flower. This wreath is taken to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) where pairs of officers from different police departments take turns to stand on the Honour Guard until midnight.

officers at memorial wall

This year for the first time a large contingent of some 50 UK officers attended the event and officially took part in the ceremonies in uniform to demonstrate the support of the British Police Service with the US Police and surviving families. The visit had the enthusiastic approval of The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who sent the group a personal letter of support stating, "It gives me great pleasure to send this letter of support to you all. The Memorial Ceremony will be a particularly poignant occasion. It will remind us how much we owe the police and how often your work tragically means making the ultimate sacrifice…Your efforts have been greatly valued." This letter was addressed to the organiser of the visit, Jim McNulty, a retired Scottish police officer and member of the International Police Association.

Jim has recently joined the Police Roll of Honour Trust, which is unique in being the only registered charity aiming to name and honour every UK police officer killed in the line of duty. The Trust is working with other charities and organisations towards a national police memorial, a police memorial day and a national police survivors support network for bereaved relatives. Jim, who together with most officers was making the visit at his own expense, suggested the Trust send their Chairman, Tony Rae, with the group to learn from their American counterparts' many years experience in this area. Jim said, "Tony and I share a vision of starting a Police Day and memorial event here. This was a great chance for him to meet the US organisers and survivor group leadership so he and I went out a week early". 

The Trust agreed to meet their chairman's travel and accommodation expenses while at the same time seeking sponsorship to cover all the costs. The visit then had a dual purpose - firstly, a group of some 50 serving and retired police officers from throughout the UK, some 30 of them in uniform, showing solidarity and support for their American brethren: to quote again from The Prime Ministers letter, "It is important that UK police are well represented at the Ceremony especially in the light of your contribution to the work of your New York counterparts during the aftermath of the 11 September atrocities"; secondly, in order to meet with the organisers of the events, including the Chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM - a US police charity) and other police memorial and surviving family welfare groups to discuss fundraising and organisation with a view to progressing similar memorial events in this country. 

Tony Rae is a sergeant in the Lancashire Constabulary, two weeks leave had to be set aside for the trip and his force granted three days special leave to assist, they also granted him permission to represent the force at official events in uniform and allowed him to take some obsolete police equipment, helmets, badges and patches. These items were much sought after and resulted in many exchange gifts and donations of hundreds of dollars to the Trust.

Tony and Jim arrived in Washington on Tuesday 7 May and on the Wednesday visited the national memorial and its visitors centre. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial honours more than 15,000 officers killed in the line of duty dating back to 1792; the names are inscribed on the memorials blue-grey marble walls which are built low so even a young child can touch a name and trace it onto slips of paper provided there. The walls encircle two tree lined 'pathways of remembrance' with each of the entrances guarded by a bronze statue of a lion or lioness protectingits young; four inscriptions accompany the monuments - including:

"IT IS NOT HOW THESEOFFICERS DIED THAT MADE THEM HEROES IT IS HOW THEY LIVED -
VIVIAN ENEY SURVIVOR"
 

memorial lion

Mackey's boots

The visitors centre was very moving; every year when relatives come to see the names on the walls at the Memorial, many leave messages and objects for the police officers who were killed and these are later put in the visitors centre for people to see. One of the items left last year was a small pair of leather cowboy boots for a child of about 3 or 4 years old, attached to them was a photo of a little boy and a handwritten message which read,  "Daddy, take my boots, I've outgrown them. I love you with all my heart. Love, your little cowboy, Mackey xoxo". The letter was only addressed to 'Daddy' and so we do not know who it was for but it was left with the boots on the wall where all the names are carved, no doubt besides his father's name; reading the note made one's hair stand on end, it was so sad but so important that the child felt he had somewhere he could go to be in touch with his father. 

They spent most of the afternoon with Police Chief Charlie T. Deane of the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia whose force was hosting the main group one day the following week, he was very friendly and even invited them both to come home and have dinner with him and his wife. 

The next day Jim and Tony visited the British Embassy, here they met Stephen Atkins, the press advisor. He listened to the story and went off to relate it elsewhere, at which point they were joined by Jamila Burke, the First Secretary. They were all engrossed by the story, and by the fact that the group would all go to the trouble of coming there to highlight the special relationship between the UK and USA.  Stephen liaised with the media resulting in Sky News featuring the visit in the UK. They were given a collection of lapel badges for the group, the UK and USA flags joined together in unity as worn by all Embassy staff. In the afternoon they took a guided tour of Arlington National Cemetery.

On Friday morning they had a meeting with Craig Floyd director of the NLEOM fund since its inception in 1984. Craig was very supportive of the Trust and the UK memorial plans and offered advice on fundraising. He was presented with the groups 'Bobbies at Police week' lapel badge and the Trusts own new Lapel badge, in addition Sergeant Rae presented him with a Lancashire Constabulary Plaque.

Tony and Jim with memorial director Craig Floyd

Following this meeting Tony and Jim attended the Blue Mass, an ecumenical service conducted by His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington DC, and attended by various honour guard parties and many officers and families. It was a very impressive service and probably the biggest culture shock of the visit with hundreds of armed uniformed officers inside the church and Honour Guards parading their colours through the church bearing rifles and shotguns!

The afternoon was taken up at the final meeting of the Police Week committee in Alexandria. This was an interesting experience and showed what huge problems they have in arranging this event. Afterwards they spent several hours and had dinner with the executive board of C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors) who were very grateful at the gesture the group were making in supporting them and wanted to help all they could with our own plans.

On Saturday 11 May the main UK party arrived and were met at the airport by Jim and Tony and a multitude of US police officers organised by Lieutenant Tony Tisdale of the Metro Transit Police and Ken Roden Honour Guard Co-ordinator for the week. They were taken on a coach to their hotel the other side of the city escorted by 15 motorcycle outriders in a manner worthy of a presidential motorcade and an example of how highly regarded was their visit to pay tribute to their US colleagues.

On Sunday the group visited the memorial and witnessed the Lawride procession where over 500 official police motorcycles from all over the USA took 50 minutes to pass the memorial. Monday morning saw a tour of the British Embassy where the group was met by Sir Christopher Meyer and his wife Lady Catherine Meyer. Both Jim and Tony were introduced to the Ambassador and discussed their visit and project with him. They also spoke with Lady Meyer who was very interested in our charitable trust as she was herself the founder of the international charity PACT (Parents & Abducted Children Together) following the abduction to Germany by their father of her own two sons in 1994; she recently helped launch a new campaign in the UK to help the police find missing children.

Jim with Sir Christopher Meyer

Tony with Lady Meyer

An afternoon tour of the Pentagon was unfortunately cancelled just as the group arrived due to a security alert in the building but the evening saw one of the highlights of the visit. The Candlelight Vigil at the NLEOM is attended by thousands of police officers and the relatives of those who have died the previous year to hear speeches and the names of the fallen officers read out. This year saw over 480 new additions to the Memorial, the most by far since the monument was dedicated in 1991. Of the new names being inscribed, 233 were killed in the line of duty in 2001-including 71 who died on September 11, the deadliest day in law enforcement history-and 250 are older deaths dating back to 1825 and only recently discovered by Memorial researchers.

The British contingent marched behind the Embassy's Union Flag to take their place alongside a Canadian and US Honour Guards, the UK group were by far the largest present and as the relatives coaches arrived directly opposite where they stood they would have been the first sight the families saw.

UK police honour guard

Thunderstorms had been forecast but after a light shower and as the relatives arrived a rainbow appeared and the weather held. As darkness fell and the names continued to be read, tens of thousands of candles were lit and held aloft. Following the ceremony the group mingled with the relatives and US officers and were overwhelmed with the admiration and respect shown them for their support. Many badges and business cards were exchanged and friendships made.

While Sergeant Rae was viewing the wall he was approached by a Police Lieutenant from the State of Connecticut, who shook his hand and thanked him for coming, The Lieutenant told Tony he had come to the memorial to pay his respects on his last day of duty, he then removed a gold medallion from his uniform tunic and gave it to Tony asking him to wear it and take it back to England. It bore the legend 'State of Connecticut - Medal of Bravery', Tony protested that he could not possibly accept it but the Lieutenant explained that he was being pensioned off having been run down by a car and seriously injured and as it was his last day in uniform he no longer had a need for the medal, he had been born in London and would be proud if Tony would wear his medal and take it back to the country of his birth. Tony agreed and asked why it had been given, the Lieutenant replied "for not killing a man" and told his story of a hand to hand struggle lasting several minutes with a knifeman attempting to stab him, he could, and probably should, have shot his attacker but did not wish to take a life, he eventually overpowered him and survived.

police bravery medal

When President Bush gave his speech at the Capitol two days later he outlined a few examples of those killed one of whom was an officer attacked by a knifeman - he could have shot and killed his assailant but courageously did not and, sadly, in not taking the man's life, he paid with his own. As he heard this Tony was wearing the Lieutenant's medal, with pride that he was able to carry out a brave man's request on his last day on the job.

The following day Tuesday 14 May the group was hosted by the Prince William Police Department who first of all laid on a coach trip for a guided tour of the FBI Academy at Quantico. Here the group witnessed the arrival of the C.O.P.S. Kids, child survivors of the officers who were being commemorated this year, who arrived under a large motorcycle escort for a tour of the facility. At the Academy Sergeant Rae was given various booklets on studies relating to 'Line of Duty' deaths.

Following this the group were welcomed by Chief Deane for lunch and a guided tour of their own Academy - for a force of only a few hundred officers (although large by American standards) a magnificent and modern training establishment. The hospitality to so many of us was outstanding with all leaving with department souvenirs including a leather document case and even Department baseball caps each individually embroidered with the officers' names.

Sgt rae and Chief Deane

The next day the 15th saw the main event of the National Peace Officers' Memorial service held in the grounds of the United States Capitol with the Keynote Speaker being President George W. Bush. There followed a Roll Call of all those who had died the previous year as relatives laid flowers on the Presidential wreath, one of the last being laid by Jon Bateman, of Leicestershire Constabulary, on behalf of the UK police group. The group had been given places inside the inner security cordon where they mingled with the many relatives. It was at times very emotional seeing and talking to so many children among the survivors. Tony had taken hundreds of newly struck trust lapel badges with him originally intending to sell them there but in the event most were given away to the children and their families, who all wore them with pride.

 

One example of the heartbreak, but also the hope, that dominates such an event was the appearance of 5-year-old Hayden Eales, with his mother Kelli and older sister Alison. The small boy is the son of Oklahoma State Trooper Rocky Eales, who was shot dead as he arrived at an incident. He was dressed in his father's shirt and trousers, specially tailored down to fit him, and a Trooper hat and accessories completed his appearance. He proudly delivered a snappy salute to the UK 'Bobbies', and when Thames Valley's Sergeant Keith Upton presented him with a force souvenir, the boy threw his arms around the officer's neck in the traditional survivor's hug. Photographs of this were rare, as onlookers including our group stood frozen, cameras in hand, tears filling their eyes.  The incident was however captured by a Sky News crew and was shown that evening on UK television. By an amazing coincidence it transpired we had found "Mackey", this was Hayden's nickname, he was the little boy who the previous year had left his cowboy boots at the memorial for his daddy.

Mackey and his sister

 

Sgt Rae gives mackey a Trust badge

Some of the group were moved to ask what similar outlet a UK child survivor has for such grief. Sadly, the answer is none but the work of the Trust intends to alter this. The week had the intended effect of illustrating how poorly we often treat our fallen officers, and how little we care for their survivors. It is hoped that some of those who attended will consider joining the effort to change that. We need a police memorial day here in the UK, and we should ensure that survivors remain part of the police family, especially the children who have to grow up without a parent. Jim McNulty has tried to raise enthusiasm for that over several years. Tony Rae's amazing research has now produced the roll of officers we should be inscribing on such a memorial. We should be nearer now than ever to realising that ambition.

Jim said, "As time goes past, there is an ever growing need to address these issues. Force welfare departments are stretched to their limits and are incapable of providing even basic support to families, far less keeping in touch with them forever. There is also the factor that many survivors do not welcome help from the police service, having sometimes, albeit unintentionally, been badly treated in the first instance. What is needed is a peer driven support organisation. Only survivors can understand how survivors feel. Ask yourself why they return year after year to Washington DC, if not to derive great comfort and strength from the ceremonies there. Those who saw little Mackie Eales' cowboy boots in the visitor centre case, and later met him at the Capitol in his dad's uniform, can relate to the fact that he obtains great comfort from such things. Where would a UK child get that? We saw for ourselves how grateful survivors were that we had travelled so far to support them. Surely our own survivors are equally deserving of such support?  Many of us went through the job in the belief that if anything happened to us, the job would care for our families. Sadly, that does not happen. Ask any police survivor in the UK what contact and support they and their children have from the job. The answer will shock you."

The President's speech

After the ceremony the President's Wreath was taken to the NLEOM where pairs of officers from many US Police Departments took ten-minute turns to stand as an 'Honor Guard' over the wreath until midnight. This position is much sought after but only a few can be chosen. In a break from tradition, two UK officers were also allowed an 'Honor Guard' space and this honour fell to Andy Martin, MOD Police, and Peter Higginson, the first UK officers ever to do so, their names having been drawn by lot earlier in the day by Craig Floyd. In another extraordinary piece of luck Tony Rae was by the memorial after darkness much later in the evening, he was still in full uniform and was chatting to one of the police widows and her young son who was trying on the officers helmet. Tony was approached by the Captain of the 'Honor Guard' and asked if he would like to stand on the Guard as two officers were late arriving (probably caught up in the massive police street parties taking place nearby!). Tony did not need asking twice and with a similarly recruited US officer, twenty minutes later he marched out to stand guard over the President's wreath while, for ten minutes people stared and cameras flashed. What an honour to stand as a foreigner in full uniform in the centre of America's capital city, but he did not feel a foreigner just very proud to be a police officer. Afterwards he was presented with a badge given only to those on the 'Honor Guard'.

Sgt Rae on 'Honor Guard'

'Honor Guard' badge

The next day, Thursday, Jim and the main group went on to New York and a visit to 'Ground Zero' where they were once again well received. Tony Rae stayed behind in Washington, having been requested by the Director and Founder (in 1984) of C.O.P.S., Suzi Sawyer, to attend their lunch and closing seminar that day followed by the 'Picnic in the Park' for the children who would very much appreciate a British 'Bobby' in their midst. Although daunted by the prospect of attending alone, Tony could not refuse what he saw as another honour. Taken to one of the top tables, he should not have been surprised when, after the meal, he was introduced to the hundreds present and called up to the stage to say a few words! Given an American flag to hold, in one hand, and his 'bobbies' helmet in the other, the response of the audience was overwhelming, and very noisy! Especially when, by a subconscious slip of the tongue, he talked about being there to support 'our' police officers and their families. The police are indeed an International brotherhood.

Finally Tony (in full uniform including helmet and tunic under an 80 degrees sun) was, of course, mobbed on the park; the children (and their parents!) taking the rest of his lapel badges but filling his pockets with their own badges and patches. He even lost his own helmet but it went to a worthy cause and he did come away with a Washington Metropolitan Police Sergeant's gold police breast badge, not to mention another $100 of donations and a lift in a police car back to his hotel 20 miles away!

Sgt Rae at COPS event

The visit was a fantastic public relations success, hundreds if not thousands of US police and their families met British 'bobbies' for the first time and the friendship and goodwill achieved is immeasurable as are the lessons learned and the knowledge gained for the future of our own aims in the UK. As a measure of the response and support received, Tony Rae, representing the Trust, but just one of the 50 came away with over $500 in Donations, some 100 business cards, a similar number of patches and lapel badges, four breast badges and ten items of US police headgear. These will be sold to raise Trust funds or kept by the Trust as symbols of our international friendship.

Tony said, "We now want the public of the UK to know that, in serving their communities, their police officers sometimes have to pay the ultimate price; but when this happens, the officers and their families will not be forgotten."

"To research and record the names of our fallen officers, going back two centuries, now and in the future; to inscribe these names forever on a lasting memorial; to set up a national peer-group support network for surviving families; these are our aims. It is a massive undertaking and will cost a lot of money; our success in this depends on the British public and businesses - we need all the help we can get. As a registered charity our continued work relies entirely on voluntary contributions and anyone who cares is asked to send a donation, large or small, to the Police Roll of Honour Trust Charity, c/o Lancashire Constabulary, Hutton, Preston, PR4 5SB. We would also be delighted to hear from businesses and police forces who would wish to help with longer term sponsorship."

"We would not have got this far without the help and financial assistance of many individuals, organisations and police forces, especially our major sponsors and donors - insurance companies, Roland Smith Ltd, Norwich Union and Royal & SunAlliance; other charities, The Police History Society, The Police Memorial Trust; and police organisations, the National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO), the Police Federation of England and Wales, the Scottish Police Federation, and the Police Federation for Northern Ireland."

meeting the survivors

"As well as honouring the dead, we also want to help those left behind and, while it is certainly not our intention to solicit donations from families of deceased officers, we would like to hear from them, whether they are in need of support, are willing to offer support to others or would simply like more information on how their loved ones will be remembered."

 


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