National Police Week, A Badge of Honor

By Mike Maiorana

On any given night, American television sets are fixed firmly on police dramas from Law & Order to CSI to NCIS. And while the public is endlessly fascinated by the lives of the men and women in blue, Hollywood can’t begin to tell this very human story.

As the son of a police officer, I feel a special affinity for our country’s greatest heroes — those who serve in law enforcement. I lost my father when I was only 9 years old. And, while he was not one of the thousands of our country’s officers killed in the line of duty (he lost his life to a battle with cancer), he served proudly every day. As a child, I saw a man who was committed to serving and that commitment guides my choices every day. Since his death 33 years ago, I’ve worked in many jobs in corporate America, married and become a father myself, but I’ve never stopped thinking of myself as the son of a police officer.

This month, we’ll commemorate National Police Week, and while this nationwide remembrance is not as well known as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, for children of fallen officers, it’s more important. It’s the one time all year when we gather to express our thanks for those officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to salute those who currently protect us, our communities and our country.

For the last two decades, I’ve worked for Verizon Wireless, and my career has provided me with many rewarding moments and milestones. Ranked high among these achievements are the partnerships my company has forged with law enforcement officers.

Recently, the Verizon Foundation delivered the final installment of a $1.5 million contribution to the new National Law Enforcement Museum, scheduled to break ground this October in Washington, DC. The contribution will fund innovative education and technology programs, including one that focuses on the need for increased respect, trust and confidence between law enforcement, domestic violence survivors, their families and the general

Domestic violence is an issue of tremendous importance to the 83,000 employees of Verizon Wireless. Since 2001, our company has donated nearly $8 million and tens of thousands of wireless phones, each with 3,000 minutes of airtime, to domestic violence agencies and organizations through the Verizon Wireless HopeLine phone-recycling program. At the same time, we’ve collected seven million phones that would have otherwise been gathering dust or clogging landfills. The phones — from any carrier, in any condition — are collected in our stores nationwide and in special collections, often organized with the help of local police.

Through the HopeLine program, our company has been privileged to work with many extraordinary members of laws enforcement. We’ve sponsored phone collection drives with police and sheriffs’ departments and partnered with attorneys general in several states to create campaigns around elder abuse, teen dating and other domestic violence issues. Because of our unique and extremely gratifying relationships with police officers, we created the HopeLine Law Enforcement Partnership Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions of these leaders to our HopeLine program.

National Police Week will bring thousands of law enforcement officers and their families to our nation’s capital this week. Many of them will visit the site in Judiciary Square where the new National Law Enforcement Museum will be built. For this son of a cop, there’s nothing better than sharing in this commemoration, acknowledging the sacrifice of so many members of law enforcement, honoring those who currently serve, and simply saying thank you.

Mike Maiorana is president of the Washington, Baltimore. Virginia Region of Verizon Wireless.