Fallen Law Officers Remembered During Hispanic Heritage Month Ceremony
by Jim Kouri
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, leaders of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and the Hispanic law enforcement community gathered Monday in Washington, DC, to pay tribute to the 637 Hispanic law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty throughout US history. The ceremony took place at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, where the names of all law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice are engraved.
Joining NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd in placing a wreath at the Memorial's center medallion were Plainfield (NJ) Police Detective Edwin Maldanado, East Coast Vice President of the National Latino Peace Officers Association (NLPOA); DC Metropolitan Police Lieutenant Juan Espinal, President of the NLPOA Washington, DC, Metro Chapter; and Special Agent Zinnia James of the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations, representing the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association.
"The walls of this Memorial are inscribed with the names of law enforcement officers of myriad races, ethnicities and national origins -- all of them heroes who made their communities safer and our nation more secure," said Mr. Floyd. "Today, as our country begins its observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, we come to this sacred ground to pay our respects to the 637 Hispanic law enforcement officers who died in service to the community."
Added Detective Maldanado, "The NLPOA and our National President Roy Garivey are honored to partner with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. We come to Washington, DC, to honor not only the service and sacrifice of Latino and Hispanic officers at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, but to honor all American law enforcement officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe."
As a demonstration of its commitment to the law enforcement profession, the NLPOA recently pledged $100,000 to the capital campaign to build the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum, adjacent to the National Memorial in the nation's capital.
NLEOMF research records indicate that the first Hispanic American law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty was Joaquin De La Torre, a deputy sheriff with the Monterey County (CA) Sheriff's Department. On November 10, 1855, Deputy De La Torre and two other members of his department were shot and killed while attempting to make an arrest. He was one of only three Hispanic law enforcement to die in the line of duty during the 19th Century.
During the first half of the 20th Century, a total of 90 Hispanic officers made the ultimate sacrifice. As the Hispanic American population of the United States grew as a whole, so did the number of Hispanics serving in law enforcement -- and the sacrifices endured by these brave men and women. From 1950 through 1999, 407 Hispanic officers died in the line of duty.
Since the year 2000, more than 140 Hispanic American officers have made the ultimate sacrifice, including 20 in 2007. Over the last decade, 1 in 10 law enforcement fatalities in the United States has involved a Hispanic American officer.
Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on September 15, is a nationwide celebration of the contributions of people of Hispanic heritage to the history of the United States.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.