Tens of thousands of law officers from the United States and beyond its shores are gathering in Washington for National Police Week, part of an annual pilgrimage to honor the fallen among their ranks.
The focal point for the week is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, a courtyard bordered by two gently sloping, 304-foot-long, three-foot-high walls that bear the engraved names of more than 19,000 officers killed in the line of duty.
Most of the names added this year are officers who died in 2013; others are officers whose sacrifice had previously been lost to history.
This year, 286 names were added to that wall, including three from Maryland:
- Officer Jason Schneider, Baltimore County Police Department. Officer Schneider was shot and killed on Aug. 28, 2013, while serving a search warrant at a home in Catonsville. Officer Schneider was part of the tactical team that had entered the house in search of a juvenile subject wanted in relation to a shooting the previous week. Officer Schneider was pursuing a subject towards the rear of the house when another subject attacked him and opened fire, striking him several times. Despite being mortally wounded, Officer Schneider returned fire and killed the subject.
- Deputy Sheriff Charles Henry Lankford, Caroline County. Deputy Lankford suffered a fatal heart attack on July 29, 1977, while attempting to break up a fight between four men at the county's annual carnival. Deputy Lankford had served with the Caroline County Sheriff's Office for 13 years. He was survived by his wife and two children.
- Police Officer Robert Hurley, Baltimore City Police Department. Officer Hurley suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after being involved in a pursuit of a robbery suspect in which his patrol car was struck by another vehicle. Officer Hurley had served with the Baltimore Police Department for 17 years. He was survived by his wife and six children.
National Police Week is an annual event in Washington, DC, a week of color guards and sad salutes, of help for surviving families and the promise to, as an engraving on part of the wall implores, "Respect. Honor. Remember."
On Tuesday, thousands will gather at the memorial for a candle-light vigil, where names will be read in a final roll call for the fallen. Taps will sound and officers and their families will gather to touch the names on the walls, to lay wreaths and flowers, and to remember.