When President John F. Kennedy signed Public Law 87-726 in 1962, he proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day -- a day when flags are flown at half staff in memory of peace officers who gave their life in the line of duty. As well, the calendar week of each year during which May 15 falls is considered National Police Week, when law enforcement and its devoted members are celebrated across the country.
On a local level, the DeWitt Police Department decided several years ago that this particular week would also be an appropriate time for Police Recognition Day, said Police Chief Eugene Conway in his opening speech at the DPD's awards night Thursday May 17. Since then, Police Recognition Day has been a part of the department's standard operating procedures.
In just one year, the department has experienced many changes, Conway said, citing an increase in department size as well as offering new programs among the established. Officers have retired and new members have been hired, he said.
"We have had marriages, attended funerals and suffered injuries," Conway continued. "But some things have remained constant, and most important among them is the outstanding selfless and lifesaving efforts put forth by members of the community as well as members of the DeWitt Police Department.
"Tonight provides us the opportunity to recognize them, to thank them and show support for the role they play in keeping all of us safe and healthy."
This year, the ceremonious occasion took place at Justin's Grill in East Syracuse with special guest Dr. Kathy Corrado, director of laboratories at the Center for Forensic Science, heading a insightful presentation on the complementary usage between DNA and latent fingerprinting.
The annual event, which brought different speakers to the podium throughout the evening, gave special mentions to people in a variety of categories, one of which came as a surprise for Conway, who was awarded the 2006 DeWitt Police Benevolent Association Award, presented by Officer Thomas Norton.