From May 12-18, 2019, police from across the nation will gather in Washington, D.C. for National Police Week, an annual memorial event honoring the police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2018. As a career U.S. police officer now working on the international stage for the State Department, for me, this week is personal. It reminds me of the many dedicated colleagues who serve in a vital and sometimes perilous role in protecting and defending society. This year, 158 names will be etched into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial along with the thousands who preceded them.
I’m fortunate to now be in a second career that exemplifies the regard in which U.S. police are held. As I see every day at work in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), U.S. embassies throughout the world, international police organizations, and foreign governments seek out the unsurpassed skills and professionalism of U.S. law enforcement. I’m proud to be working at the State Department to leverage this American policing expertise in building the skillsets of crime-fighters overseas.
INL partners with 24 of the most highly-regarded police organizations in the United States to help their foreign counterparts fight crime more effectively. Unfortunately, 17 police officers from four of INL’s U.S. partner organizations are among those whose names will be added to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial this year. We extend condolences to their families and express gratitude for those brave men and women who lost their lives: Officer Kirk A Griess from the California Highway Patrol; Officer Jermaine T. Brown from Miami-Dade Police Department; Deidre I. Mengedoht from Louisville Metro Police; Officers Gary Lee Koch, Richard Lopez, William P. Farley, and Mark J. Natale from New York City Police; Detectives Thomas J. Barnitt, William H. Allee, Harry Valentin, Sally A. Thompson, Pedro Esponda, Jr., Michael Lawrence Ledek, and Basilio A. Simons from New York City Police; and, Lieutenants William H. Wanser, III , Jeffrey W. Francis and Paul Murphy from New York City Police.
Sadly, U.S. police are not alone in suffering these line-of-duty deaths. In June, the State Department will conduct an annual ceremony honoring the memories of foreign and American individuals who lost their lives in 2018 while working overseas on INL programs. Their names will be added to our INL Memorial Wall. These dedicated employees worked to promote peace and security abroad—making the world a safer place, advancing the security of Americans, and improving the lives of the people in the countries in which they served. Ghulam Sarwar Yousuf and Abadullah Hananzai lost their lives working to improve security in Afghanistan in 2018, and will take their place of honor next month on the INL Memorial Wall in the State Department’s 21st Street lobby.
Despite all of the challenges that police face in their chosen profession, National Police Week demonstrates that their sacrifices are recognized. I look forward to continuing to strengthen INL’s partnerships with the men and women of U.S. law enforcement, and drawing on their unparalleled expertise to advance our goals abroad.
About the Author: Colonel (ret.) Linda Mayberry serves as a Senior Police Advisor in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and formally served as Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police.