National Police Week Brings Thousands to DC, Fallen Officers Remembered and Honored

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, law enforcement officers and family members traveled from across the country to attend National Police Week in our nation’s capital. 

The annual event honors the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Mothers, fathers, siblings, children and fellow officers from across the country honored their friends and loved ones. The week was filled with laughter, tears and hugs. 

For over four decades, National Police Week has brought together law enforcement, survivors, and citizens to gather and pay homage to those who gave their lives in the line of duty. 

“43 years ago, the Fraternal Order of Police had a very small memorial service in Washington, D.C. About 100 people showed up,” said Pat Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). “It’s been 43 years in development, and now it’s attended by tens of thousands.” 

Tens of thousands showed up this year to honor the 222 lives lost in the line of duty in 2023, including one familiar to Erie County, Trooper Jacques “Jay” Rougeau. 

Trooper Rougeau enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) in 2020. Last June, while off duty, the 29-year-old responded to shots fired at parked patrol cars at PSP Lewistown. While rushing to assist his brothers and sisters in law enforcement, Trooper Rougeau was shot and killed. He is the 104th member of the department to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

Trooper Rougeau’s name lives on, with the more than 24,000 heroes who are forever engraved in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

“When someone goes to the memorial wall, they look at it and they see these names, 24,067 names engraved. The cost of the way of life that we have is, it’s a stark reminder when you look at the wall and you see how many people that have placed themselves between order and chaos in and across this country,” said Yoes. 

Yoes said the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is more than just names on a wall- it’s 24,067 individual stories and families who also made a sacrifice. 

“For the families, it’s not just names. Each name has a face, it has a memory, it has a story. It’s not just about the sacrifice that that their loved one gave. It’s also for their sacrifice as well,” said Yoes. 

Yoes said the week is also about connecting the families who’ve made that sacrifice, giving them the opportunity to find light during such a difficult time and meeting with other families experiencing their same pain. Oftentimes, lifelong friendships and connections are built through National Police Week.