Law enforcement team members from across the Kaiserslautern Military Community came together to recognize Police Week and remember those who have fallen in the line of duty at Ramstein Air Base, May 15-20.
Police Week began in the 1960s to remember those who gave their lives in the line of duty.
“Police Week’s foundation began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day,” said Chief Master Sgt. Grant Holder, 435th Security Forces Squadron senior enlisted leader. “Moving forward to 1982, survivors and supporters began gathering in Senate Park in Washington D.C. to participate in events throughout the week, honoring those officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in the line of duty. For us here at Ramstein, it is an opportunity to remember, bond and compete.”
From the highest ranking defenders to the lowest, many know the importance of their craft and what it means to be a defender.
“I think it’s an honor to be a part of this team and be among the great defenders who came before us,” said Staff Sgt. Brianna Bates, 435 SFS Ground Combat Readiness Training Center instructor. “We do this job seven days a week, 365 days a year. It can sometimes be tough to take all this into account when you’re on the job. But, once a year we take the time to remember, so we can live up to the standards set by those who came before us.”
Along with remembrance, security forces units across the KMC hosted events designed to be physically challenging. These events included a 24-hour ruck march, a Security Forces equipment and K-9 demo and expo, fire team challenge, pistol competition and K-9 competition as a way to stay fit and bond with one another.
“These physical events are a great way to build camaraderie amongst the various law enforcement entities across the KMC,” Holder said. “It offers the chance for bragging rights and a good way to relieve stress, talk to other defenders, collaborate and forge new friendships for our Airmen.”
For many law enforcement officers, whether civilian or in the military, taking the time to remember that they come from a long line of people who laid down their lives to protect their communities was a big part of this week’s event.
“I think it’s important to recognize those in law enforcement who have died in the line of duty for the same reason we recognize those in our military who have paid the ultimate price for their country,” Holder said. “When I read about Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman or Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger, the words that come to mind are respect, duty, honor and sacrifice. In a way, the remembrance and recognition make you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself. There is pride in knowing there are people who understand the potential life and death consequences of their profession, but still go forward and carry out their duties regardless of those potential consequences.”
All sectors of law enforcement take this week to reflect on the importance of what they do every day. They do it because they are the people citizens call if they need protection and help in matters involving the law. They are also called on to lay down their lives in some cases, so others can return to their families. Or, under more pleasant circumstances, a community partner who stands beside the people to build a better world for all.
“Just as we in the U.S. armed forces feel it’s important to remember those across the branches who came before us and the sacrifices they made, the same rings true for those in our own career field,” Holder said. “When I see their pictures and hear their stories, I remember their sacrifices. I know what they did was not in vain and will be honored and memorialized from now and into the future.”