May 15th National Peace Officers Memorial Day
National Police Week occurs every May, and in 2022 it will be observed from May 11–17. In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
The first enforcement officers in the U.S. operated privately, employed by wealthy individuals to protect their assets. Public peace officers developed shortly after this in the mid-1600s, first in Boston and then in New York and Philadelphia. They were predominantly volunteers who acted as night watchmen and reported fellow citizens behaving badly.
Boston continued to lead the way in peace organization, with the first publicly funded, organized police force set up in 1838, which paid officers to keep the peace full-time. By the late 1880s, all major U.S. cities had police forces, although their priorities differed from state to state, depending on the problems faced in each area. Law enforcement heads were often chosen by the local political leader so, as a result, the enforcement could work in favor of the ruling political party.
In response, President Hoover set up an investigation into the effectiveness of law enforcement nationwide in 1929. It called for peace officers to work in a professional and impartial way to enforce the law and was a turning point in the history of the officers who protect us today. It promoted the selflessness that we now honor every year on May 15.