The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund will hold the 33rd Annual Candlelight Vigil Thursday night, where 701 fallen officers will be recognized. According to the organization, 434 of those officers died in 2019 and 2020, 62 percent of officer deaths in 2020 were due to COVID-19.
“The stories behind each of the 701 new names that we officially add to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial tonight are so special,” National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto said in a press release ahead of the event. “To pay them proper tribute, each of their names will be read as a part of the ceremony and will be forever etched on the walls of the Memorial and in the hearts of an eternally grateful nation.”
According to the organization 22,611 law enforcement officers “from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, federal, corrections, railroad, and military police agencies” have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history.
Four notable fallen officers who will not be recognized Thursday night are the four officers who committed suicide in the months after they responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Those four are officers Kyle DeFreytag, Gunther Hashida, Howard Liebengood, and Jeffrey Smith. The latter two took their own lives shortly after the riots, while the former two died about 6 months later.
Their deaths put a new focus on mental health within policing, as discussed when Capitol Police officers testified in front of the House committee investigating the riots.
”There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling,” Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said at the hearing. “What we all went through that day was traumatic, and if you are hurting please take advantage of the counseling services that are available to us.”
More than 100 officers were injured in the riots. One officer who was attacked in the riots died the day after. So far, more than 500 people have been arrested for their role in the violence.