Maj Gen Thomas P. Sherman

Every year, National Police Week serves as a great reminder of the bravery, sacrifice, and dedication exhibited by law enforcement officers across the globe. It's a time to reflect on their unwavering commitment to safeguarding communities, often at great personal risk.

As we observe National Police Week on May 12 – 18, let us honor the men and women who selflessly serve and protect. National Police Week pays tribute to law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty and honors those who continue to serve with courage and integrity.

The National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on May 15 will honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Thousands of officers, families, and supporters will gather at noon on the west front of the U.S. Capitol to pay their respects to the 282 fallen heroes whose names were recently added to the memorial. The memorial honors federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement officers.

At this year’s event, five fallen Department of the Air Force Defenders will be added to the memorial. Staff Sgt. John Thomas Self was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq on May 14, 2007, as he led his team on a joint police patrol with the local police. Airman Trinity Leeann Reinhart was killed on September 16, 2023, in an off-base single vehicle crash and was the passenger in the vehicle. Airman Reinhart was returning to base after a Nuclear Security Operation and following behind another Air Force vehicle.  Staff Sgt. Charles Lane Huskey, A1C Barry Holmes, and Senior Airman Donald Herman Heitkamp were killed in in a helicopter crash on May 29, 1986. The Defenders were assigned to the 45th Missile Security Squadron supporting nuclear security operations.

Additionally, Timothy Gerald, Deputy Director of Security Forces, will attend the 36th Annual Candlelight Vigil on the National Mall on May 13 on behalf of all Air Force Security Forces. The names engraved on the memorial are read aloud during the vigil.

National Police Week fosters community engagement and strengthens relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Law enforcement agencies often collaborate with military police forces to enhance base security. This partnership allows for the sharing of resources, intelligence, and expertise to address security challenges effectively.

“It's essential to recognize that supporting law enforcement extends beyond this designated week,” said Deputy Director Timothy Gerald. “This includes properly resourcing law enforcement organizations and advocating for reform within the criminal justice system – to build a safer society for all.”

Active duty, reserve, guard and civilian Defenders play a crucial role in base defense by providing security, enforcing laws, and responding to emergencies within and around military installations. These individuals work tirelessly to uphold the rule of law, protect the vulnerable, and ensure public safety.

In the past year, we implemented occupational medical examinations for Defenders and removed barriers to seeking mental healthcare in our career field’s retention standard. We continue to move forward with the Model Defender accession effort, identifying and classifying new enlistees with attributes aligned with the base defense mindset.

Additionally, the Female Defender Initiative (FDI) is fostering a culture where Security Forces women thrive and identifying opportunities to change policy in ways that benefit all our Defenders. Over the past year, the FDI Action Team has visited eight bases and met with Defenders across the Total Force, working to gather inputs, provide support, and ensure our Airmen know that they are heard and advocated for at the highest levels.

Our Civilian Security Forces implemented a mentorship program that aims to foster professional growth, networking opportunities, and knowledge exchange between experienced professionals and individuals who are eager to learn and grow in their respective fields. By participating as a mentor or mentee, they have had the opportunity to share knowledge, insights, and experiences with aspiring professionals, provide guidance and support to mentees as they navigate their career paths and expand their own network and build meaningful connections with fellow professionals.

“As we observe National Police Week this year, let us take a moment to express our gratitude to the brave men and women who selflessly serve and protect our communities,” said Maj. Gen. Sherman, Director of Security Forces. “Whether through a simple thank you, participating in local events, or advocating for positive change, let us stand in solidarity with law enforcement officers and honor their invaluable contributions to our society. Together, let us ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten, and their legacy of service continues to inspire future generations.”

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