What is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial?

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  • Written By: Laura Evans
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Dedicated in 1991, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is a testimonial to police and law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty protecting the people of the United States. The Monument, which honors federal, state and local officers, consists of two curving marble walls, each 304 feet (92.7 meters) long. Located in Washington D.C., the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial includes a mention of the first known police officer know to have died while in service, New York City Deputy Sherriff Isaac Smith, who died on 17 May 1792.

In addition to Deputy Sherriff Isaac Smith, officers listed include Robert Olinger (d. 1881) and James Bell (d. 1881) who were killed by the outlaw "Billy the Kid" William H. Bonney (1859-1881), also known as Henry McCarty and William Antrim. Dallas Officer J. D. Tippit (1924-1963) is also noted on the Memorial. Tippit was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) after Oswald assassinated United States President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) on 3 November 1963. Also listed on the Memorial are all 72 officers who died in the terrorists attacks on 11 September 2001, the single deadliest day in law enforcement history in the United States. Seventy-one of the officers died in New York City while the remaining officer, United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Richard Guadagno, died when United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.


Architect Davis Buckley designed the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Other projects the Davis Buckley Architects have been involved in include the National Museum of the American Indian, the Watergate Hotel and Restaurant and the United States Courthouse. The firm has received awards such as Mayor's Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation from the D.C. Historic Preservation Office in 2005 for the Decatur House Museum Historic Kitchen and Presidential Design Award from The National Endowment for the Arts in 2002 for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

New names are added yearly in May during National Police Week. President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and the week around May 15 as National Police Week in 1963. The names submitted must be approved by the memorial's names committee in order to be added to the memorial's walls.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is located on three acres at E Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets NW in Judiciary Square in Washington D. C. Open every day of the year 24 hours a day, the Memorial offers directories at each entrance to assist in locating a particular officer. There is no charge to visit the Memorial.


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