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                                 May 2014 • Vol. 37 • No. 3           

In This Issue

23rd Annual Tribute to Fallen Officers Kicked Off National Correctional Officers and
Employees Week

By Sylvia Lane

This year’s annual wreath-laying ceremony and honor guard competition were held on Saturday, May 3, 2014, at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. Marking the start of National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, this event brings jurisdictions together from across the region to honor corrections professionals who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as those who are still courageously serving in correctional settings throughout the country.

Now in its 23rd year, the ceremony is hosted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Corrections Chiefs Committee, which includes representatives from the District of Columbia; city of Alexandria, Va.; and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, Va.; and Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s, Md., counties. The committee’s primary mission is to facilitate information exchange among the jurisdictions, and provide a forum for sharing innovative correctional strategies and best practices.

While always well-attended, audience members appreciate the pomp and circumstance and pride that comes with watching correctional officers adorned in formal dress uniforms marching in lock step; paying tribute by laying roses and saluting their fallen brethren; and releasing white doves to honor the fallen. Equally important is the validation of the contributions made by those serving in the field of corrections and the vital role they play in upholding public safety throughout the country. 

This year, Tom Faust, chair of the Corrections Chiefs Committee and director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, served as the event’s master of ceremonies. Faust has been a champion of public safety for many years, and is fully committed to this event and all that is done to acknowledge those who courageously serve on the front lines each and every day. Chuck Bean, executive director of MWCOG, provided the opening remarks, during which he reinforced his organization’s ongoing commitment to public safety and corrections.

The event’s keynote speaker was Karol V. Mason, assistant attorney general from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. Mason was appointed by President Barack Obama in February 2013 to oversee the Office of Justice Programs — the umbrella organization for criminal justice programs, juvenile justice initiatives and crime victims’ services. In communicating the Department of Justice’s mission, Mason conveyed a message that exemplified the importance of this annual event. “I am proud that the Department of Justice can call all of you our partners and friends. The department’s mission — to enforce the law and defend the interests of the U.S., to ensure public safety, to help prevent and control crime, to punish the guilty and to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans — depends on the work that you do each and every day,” she said. “There can be no justice in the absence of your contributions.”

Following Mason’s presentation, Craig Floyd, director of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, gave brief remarks before beginning the roll call of 11 fallen corrections professionals whose names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial. Floyd spoke of the need not only to honor the fallen, but protect the men and women who enter correctional institutions every day. He also acknowledged enhancements at the federal level that reflect a strong and ongoing commitment to law enforcement. Floyd also noted that the 100 law enforcement professionals killed in the line of duty during 2013 represented the lowest number since 1944.

Attendees were also given an update on the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will be located adjacent to the memorial. Craig reported that the design and underground infrastructure have been completed, with more than $54 million already raised for the museum, which is set to open in 2016. He also praised the California Peace Officers Association for its donation of $1 million to the museum’s building fund.

As roll call began, honor guard members from the region and other jurisdictions —  including New Jersey and Western Virginia — laid roses and saluted each fallen professional. With the retiring of the colors, the wreath laying ceremony ended, and the honor guard teams from each participating jurisdiction prepared for the competition. The military judges for this year’s competition were from the U.S. Army’s Old Guard based in Arlington, Va., an organization that has shown a longstanding commitment to this event. With each team thoroughly inspected prior to and during the competition, the judges evaluated their uniforms, marching, command execution, weapons, flags and overall professionalism. This year, the honor guard team from Prince George’s County, Md., placed first; the District of Columbia team placed second; and the Fairfax County, Va., team placed third. The award for best dressed team went to Fairfax County.

As the event concluded, representatives from each jurisdiction spoke informally about the special activities planned in the coming week as part of National Correctional Officers and Employees Week.  Whether planning formal recognition programs, social gatherings, cookouts, family days, sporting competitions or other fun-filled events, everyone acknowledged the importance of recognizing a job well done. The annual wreath-laying ceremony and honor guard competition will remain a part of what corrections professionals do to ensure that those who have accepted the challenge to protect will never be forgotten. 

 

Photos by Darby Baham

Sgt. MaRion Boyd (second from left) from the District of Columbia Department of Corrections sings the national anthem, as District of Columbia Department of Corrections Director Tom Faust (far left), Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Executive Director Chuck Bean (third from left) and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Karol Mason (far right) look on.

(Left) Members of the special honor/color guard present the colors to the audience at the 23rd annual wreath-laying ceremony.

(Right) An officer from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services honor guard walks to lay a rose in honor of a fallen correctional officer during the wreath laying ceremony.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman Craig Floyd (far left) and District of Columbia Department of Corrections Director Tom Faust (far right) stand with the U.S. Army Old Guard, whose members served as judges for the honor guard competition.

The Alexandria (Va.) Sheriff’s Office kicked off the honor guard competition, which followed the wreath-laying ceremony.

 

The Prince George’s County (Md.) Department of Corrections honor guard competes during the honor guard competition. Prince George’s County placed first in the competition.

 

Sylvia Lane is the government and public affairs coordinator for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections.

 

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