By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
On May 4, 1963 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week of May 15 each year occurs as Police Week. Little Rock did its part in honoring peace officers by holding events around the base throughout the week to raise awareness about their job while remaining vigilant and safeguarding the community.
Police Week is a week-long observance in honor of federal, state and local officers who have been injured, disabled or, in the case of Team Little Rock members Staff Sgt. John Self and Staff Sgt. Dustin Peters, people who paid the ultimate sacrifice supporting operations in Iraq. Throughout the week people all over the United States affiliated with the police force shut down their businesses and took time off work to pay tribute to those who serve and those who have fallen.
“Every day cops put their lives on the line.” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Miller, a 19th Security Forces Squadron plans noncommissioned officer. “You don’t know what you are going to respond to or what you are going to have to deal with, you just hope you can make it to the next day.”
The men and women of the United States Air Force Security Forces man the gates of bases all around the world through all types of inclement weather, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They defend the Constitution here or wherever the call of duty might come. They methodically conduct missions behind enemy lines, as well as care for others around them.
In proclamation 3537, Kennedy said “It is fitting and proper that we express our gratitude for the dedicated service and courageous deeds of law enforcement officers and for the contributions they have made to the security and well-being of all our people,” and fifty years later, Little Rock Air Force Base still recognizes those words and continues to support all of the law enforcement community.
This past week the 19th SFS asked Team Little Rock to come out in support of the activities they had planned to reach out to the community and to demonstrate their skills. The 19th SFS held numerous events around the base in Support of Police Week.
Monday morning the Security Forces Squadron on base took part in a 24-hour ruck march at Heritage Park in remembrance of all fallen law enforcement officers from the base as well as the United States.
“The constant movement for 24 hours was just a small way to remember those who didn’t stop for us.” said Miller.
Tuesday, a golf tournament was held at the Deer Run golf course where Team Little Rock members were asked to come out and support the Booster Club.
Wednesday, a demonstration was held to showcase skills and weapons used by today’s law enforcement, along with a K-9 demonstration and a taser demonstration. For the taser demonstration volunteers were taken from the audience to display the effects of the taser on a subject.
“The demonstration was held to show our capabilities and raise awareness of our first responders.” said Maj. Peter Lex, 19th Security Forces Squadron commander.
Thursday, a Memorial service was held to remember Self and Peters as well as all others who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while deployed.
“Many of the guys from the 19th SFS were friends with Self and enjoy interacting with his family,” said Lex.
The families of the fallen Team Little Rock members were in attendance for the ceremony, which was held at the 19th Security Forces Building where a memorial stands for Sgt, Self.
“The ceremony is something we have done for several years and is a small way to show the base and his family that we still remember Staff Sgt. Self and the sacrifice he made.” said Lex.
Being an officer of the law can be a thankless job. They wake up each morning not knowing what challenges they will have to face that day and are often unappreciated until they are needed. The men and women of the law enforcement community serve, protect and make the general public a safer place.