AFSCME honors public safety professionals during National Law Enforcement Week

National Law Enforcement Week gives us an opportunity to recognize the sacrifices and contributions of America’s public safety professionals. We honor and respect the thousands of AFSCME public safety professionals who never quit on our communities, and we commit to fighting for them so they can do their jobs safely and effectively. 

“More than ever, we must ensure they have the funding, the tools, the training and the equipment to keep our communities and themselves safe,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a video message. “During National Police Week, we salute them.” 

A signature event of Law Enforcement Week is an annual candlelight vigil held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which honors those in law enforcement who have died in the line of duty. Those fallen heroes had their names inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. 

AFSCME law enforcement leaders and members from across the country participated in the vigil on Saturday, the 35th year the event has been held. 

For Ron Walsh, president of New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union (Council 82), which represents 3,500 police and corrections officers throughout the state, participating in the candlelight vigil was painful yet necessary. 

“To be here is important for all law enforcement but especially for Council 82. We have several members on the wall, and we pay our respects to members we’ve lost,” said Walsh, who was in Washington with a contingent of police officers, corrections officers and 911 dispatchers from New York state. “It’s really hard to come to the vigil and see families walking past you because their loved ones are on the wall. But we’re ultimately here to pay respect to everyone who’s walked the hard beat.” 

This year, 224 officers killed in the line of duty in 2022 will be added to the memorial, along with 332 who died in years past. There are 23,785 names on the memorial. 

For Jeff Ormsby, executive director of AFSCME Texas Corrections and a former corrections officer for nearly 30 years, attending the candlelight vigil was “a sobering event.”  

Eleven workers represented by AFSCME Texas Corrections died this past year. 

“There’s a bond between correctional officers that most people don’t understand,” said Ormsby. “You know what they go through on a daily basis. It’s a whole different world inside that fence. You learn to rely on them with your life every day.”