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An Officer Data Form must be completed for each officer considered for inclusion on the Memorial. The form must be signed by the head of the agency for which the officer worked; forms that do not have the signature of an agency head will not be processed. Individuals not affiliated with the agency which the officer served may initiate an Officer Data Form, but the form still must be signed by the agency head.
Officer Data Forms and any supporting documentation are reviewed for accuracy and completeness by the Memorial Fund’s Research Department. If additional information or documentation is needed, Research staff will contact the submitting agency. Officers Data Forms must be submitted to the Research Department by December 31 to be considered for inclusion on the Memorial the next year.
Completed forms are forwarded to a committee of the Memorial Fund Board of Directors called the Names Committee. Committee members thoroughly review each case to determine if the circumstances of the death meet the criteria for inclusion on the National Memorial. During two or three meetings held at the beginning of each year, the Committee votes to either approve or deny a case, or to send the case back to the submitting agency for more information. A case that has been denied by the Committee can be re-submitted for consideration in future years, provided that additional information or documentation is supplied.
Once cases have been approved by the Names Committee, Memorial Fund Research staff contacts the agencies for which the officers worked for confirmation and follow up. Staff also works with the Memorial’s engravers to align the names on the Memorial and schedule the engraving, usually 2-3 weeks prior to National Police Week. Each May 13, during the Candlelight Vigil at the Memorial, the newly engraved names are read aloud and formally dedicated on the monument.
Criteria for Inclusion
For the purpose of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, “law enforcement officer” means an individual involved in crime control or reduction and who is directly employed on a full-time basis by a local, county, state or federal law enforcement agency of the United States or its territories, with or without compensation, who is duly sworn and has full arrest powers.
A law enforcement agency is a governmental agency or subunit thereof having statutory powers of arrest and involved in crime control or reduction. The agency must employ at least one full-time, duly sworn, trained and certified officer with full arrest powers, or the equivalent in part-time officers.
Officers serving with private or state colleges and universities, and railroads will also be included, provided they are recognized as having law enforcement status by state, U.S. or District of Columbia Code, are duly sworn, trained and certified, with full arrest powers.
In addition, military police officers will be included but only if, at the time of their death, they were experiencing similar hazards and performing similar duties as those normally experienced and performed by non-military law enforcement personnel. In such cases, eligibility will be determined after a review of several issues, including but not limited to, whether the officer was receiving combat, imminent danger or hazardous pay; job description; whether the officer was responding to a law enforcement violation in their area of jurisdiction, and circumstances of death. Military police officers serving in a combat situation will not be included.
Less than full-time law enforcement officers will also be considered. In such cases, eligibility will be determined after a review of several issues, including but not limited to, job description, training and circumstances of death.
Correctional employees shall be included if they are recognized as having law enforcement status by their employing jurisdiction. Other correctional employees who do not have formal law enforcement status but who do have a primary or limited responsibility for the custody and security of suspected or convicted criminal offenders, and are employed by a local, county, state or federal correctional agency, will also be considered. If law enforcement is not a person’s primary function (for example, correctional employees such as Maintenance Supervisor, Farm Manager, Food Service Instructor and the like), then that person must be engaged in their law enforcement duties when their fatal injury is sustained. In such cases, eligibility will be determined after a review of several issues, including but not limited to, job description; federal, state or local statutes; training, and circumstances of death.
“Line of duty” means any action which an officer is obligated or authorized by law, rule, regulation or written condition of employment service to perform, or for which the officer is compensated by the public agency he or she serves, including actions taken against an officer.
The term “killed in the line of duty” means a law enforcement officer has died as a direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty. This includes victim law enforcement officers who, while in an off-duty capacity, act in response to a law violation. It also includes victim law enforcement officers who, while in an off-duty capacity, are en route to or from a specific emergency or responding to a particular request for assistance; or the officer is, as required or authorized by law or condition of employment, driving his or her employer’s vehicle to or from work; or when the officer is, as required by law or condition of employment, driving his or her own personal vehicle at work and is killed while en route to or from work.
Not included under this definition are deaths attributed to natural causes, except when the medical condition arises out of physical exertion, while on duty, that is required by law or condition of employment including, but not limited to, the following:
- running or other types of exercise being performed as part of training programs administered by the employing agency;
- fitness tests administered by the employing agency;
- lifting of heavy objects; or
- a specific stressful response to a violation of law or an emergency situation causing an officer’s death immediately or within 24 hours of violation or emergency situation, or causing his or her death during a continuous period of hospitalization immediately following the specific response to the specific stressful response to the violation of law or emergency situation.
Stressful responses include, but are not limited to, the following:
- a physical struggle with a suspected or convicted criminal;
- performing a search and rescue mission that requires rigorous physical activity;
- performing or assisting with emergency medical treatment;
- responding to a violation of the law or emergency situation that involves a serious injury or death; or
- a situation that requires either a high speed response or pursuit on foot or in a vehicle.
Also not included under this definition are deaths attributed to voluntary alcohol or controlled substance abuse, deaths caused by the intentional misconduct of the officer, deaths caused by the officer’s intention to bring about his or her own death and deaths attributed to an officer performing his or her duty in a grossly negligent manner at time of death.
Each death caused by disease shall be reviewed by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology or other medical personnel with similar skill and expertise. If it is determined that the officer died as a result of infectious disease contracted while performing official duties, or by exposure to hazardous materials or conditions while performing official duties, that officer is eligible for inclusion on the Memorial.
An officer shall be included if a department states that the officer died in the line of duty and there is no information to believe otherwise. The Memorial Fund Research staff shall exhaust all possible means available to verify an officer’s eligibility status, and the correct spelling of the name. Efforts will include having the name verified by the law enforcement agency of record and a surviving family member.
A Note about the Criteria for Adding Names to the Memorial
The criteria for including an officer’s name on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial are separate and distinct from the line-of-duty death criteria used by other entities or programs, including state and local law enforcement memorials and the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program, U.S. Department of Justice. Acceptance for inclusion on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in no way impacts decisions made by the federal government regarding the awarding of PSOB benefits. For more information about PSOB, visit https://psob.bja.ojp.gov/or call 1-888-744-6513.