During the month of May, police agencies in Kentucky and across the U.S. take time to remember and honor their fellow officers who have fallen in the line of duty.
The chaplain of Lexington’s police department says memorial events can be meaningful for officers, their families, and the community at large.
President John F Kennedy proclaimed the first Peace Officers Memorial Day in 1962. Today there are national, state, and local events tied to this National Police Week.
Lexington Police Chaplain Donovan Stewart says there was a significant jump in officer deaths in 2016. “Training and technology has improved and we have seen a lowering in the line of duty death rates over the years. We have had a spike here this last year through various things that we all know, we’ve seen on the news and different things,” noted Stewart.
Stewart says the 136 officers who died in the line of duty nationally last year represented a 56% increase over the previous year.
Stewart made the move from patrol to chaplaincy in the summer of 2006. “I have a diverse department and get to serve all of those from those with a Christian background, to those with other world views, to those that have no faith preference at all,” said Stewart. “I get to come alongside them as their chaplain and friend and able just to help them finish their career as happy, healthy, and whole as they started it.”
Lexington’s annual police memorial service took place earlier this month. The national event occurred this past Monday. Two other Central Kentucky ceremonies, one in Richmond and another in Frankfort, are scheduled next week.