In honor of Police Week 2018, U.S. Customs & Border Protection honored their fallen officers Wednesday at a solemn ceremony at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in Washington, D.C. Personnel, families and guests gathered in the rain to pay tribute and recognize the sacrifices of the front-line border security personnel.
“Observance of Police Week is of tremendous importance to the families of the fallen,” said Commissioner Kevin McAleenan at the packed ceremony. VIPs at the event included Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady, Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello, Acting Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost, and the families of three fallen Border Patrol agents.
The stage was flanked by Federal Protective Service (FPS), Border Patrol agents, and other law enforcement as Nielsen recognized the bravery of all the agents serving at CBP and vowed to support “those we lost in the line of duty and those lost to suicide – we commit to support their physical and emotional well-being.”
Nielsen also vowed to fight for CBP agents. “I will support you,” she said. “I will fight for you to get the resources you need.”
CBP added three agents to the Valor Memorial: Border Patrol Agent Isaac Morales died on May 24, in El Paso, Texas, after he confronted an assailant with a knife on May 20. On Nov. 19, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez died from injuries suffered in an incident still under investigation in the Big Bend Sector area of operation. Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Lawrence B. Pierce suffered fatal wounds Aug. 17, 1995, after he approached an assailant who had just stabbed someone.
There are over 19,000 agents in the Border Patrol covering the Coastal Border, Northern Border and Southwest Border sectors. In 2017, agents apprehended more than 300,000 people trying to gain entry to the U.S.; approximately 130,000 of those were from Mexico. CBP also intercepted more than 860,000 pounds of marijuana, 9,000 pounds of cocaine, 15,000 ounces of heroin and 568 pounds of other drugs.
Each year, National Police Week attracts tens of thousands of law enforcement officials from across the country to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.