Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has introduced a bipartisan resolution with several of her Senate colleagues that would create National Peace Officers Memorial Day, to honor law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Senator Collins is an original cosponsor of the resolution that would designate May 15, 2005 as a special day of national recognition. It is the same day that more that 20,000 officers are expected to hold a event in Washington, DC, to honor their fallen comrades. The Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) respectively, are the primary sponsors of the resolution.

The following is Senator Collins’ statement:

“I am pleased to join the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Specter and Leahy, as an original cosponsor of this resolution to keep alive in the memory of all Americans the sacrifice and commitment of those law enforcement officers who lost their lives serving their communities. Specifically, this resolution would designate May 15, 2005, as National Peace Officers Memorial Day.

“As Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I understand the risks which law enforcement officers as first responders face every day on the front lines protecting our communities. Currently, more than 850,000 men and women who serve this Nation as our guardians of law and order do so at a great risk. Each year, about 1 in 16 officers is assaulted, 1 in 25 officers is injured, and 1 in 6,000 officers is killed in the line of duty somewhere in America. There are few communities in this country that have not been affected by the words “officer down.”

“On September 11, 2001, 72 peace officers died as a result of a cowardly act of terrorism. This single act of terrorism resulted in the highest number of peace officers ever killed in a single incident in the history of this country. But, what all Americans need to realize is that the incredible service and sacrifice displayed by our law enforcement officers on that fateful day four years ago is occurring each and every day in communities across our nation.

“In 2004, 153 Federal, State, tribal and local law enforcement officers gave their lives in the line of duty, below the decade-long average of 166 deaths annually, and a major drop from 2001 when a total of 230 officers were killed. A number of factors contributed to this reduction including better equipment and the increased use of bullet-resistant vests, improved training, longer prison terms for violent offenders, and advanced emergency medical care. And, in total, more than 17,000 men and women have made the supreme sacrifice, including 80 from my home state of Maine dating back to the first death in 1808 of Ebenezer Parker, a deputy sheriff from Cumberland County.

“The Chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Craig W. Floyd, reminds us that a police officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in America nearly every other day. More than 850,000 officers put their lives at risk each and every day for our safety and protection. National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day provide our Nation with an important opportunity to recognize and honor that extraordinary service and sacrifice.

“On May 15, 2005, more than 20,000 peace officers are expected to gather in our Nation’s Capital to join with the families of their fallen comrades, who by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities. In doing so, these heroes have established for themselves and their fellow officers, an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens. This resolution is a fitting tribute for this special and solemn occasion.

“I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting passage of this important resolution.”