Military personnel honor fallen officers during Peace Officers Week

Military personnel honor fallen officers during Peace Officers Week

Airman Xavier De Leon (left), and Airman Calahan Ross (right), 4th Security Forces Squadron entry controllers finish an 8.3-mile ruck march during police week, April 17, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Police week was created in 1962 by then President John F. Kennedy in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda A. Loera)

By Rindi White

More than 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt acknowledged that the United States might be forced to act as an “international police power.”

His words have only grown truer as the United States has evolved. Our nation’s military acts as a peacekeeping force in more countries around the world than any other nation. And this week, it’s time to celebrate their efforts and the efforts of service members within the military whose sworn duty it is to provide security and preserve peace and justice. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which May 15 falls as Peace Officers Week.

The U.S. military, while adhering to the laws of the United States, has its own military police officers to uphold the Uniform Code of Military Justice and ensure safety at military posts in the U.S. and around the world.

From Air Force Security Forces specialists guarding some of the nation’s most highly valued assets, to U.S. Army military police officers patrolling bases to ensure service personnel are adhering to military laws and regulations, to Army Criminal Investigations special agents investigating felony-level crimes, to U.S. Navy masters-at-arms working as a mobile security force, military law enforcement members are vital to a functioning military.

Around the world, military personnel are recognizing Police Week by honoring fallen officers, holding community runs and having other celebrations.

At Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, the base held the celebration in April due to conflicts with an air show in May. The Police Week activities included an 8.3-mile ruck march, with airmen from multiple squadrons participating, as well as a “shoot, move and communicate” challenge in which squadrons teamed up across the base to test their skills during a timed obstacle course in which they rescued hostages.

“This was a good opportunity to get the community involved, recognize Goldsboro law enforcement and give them our appreciation for their long hours and hard work,” said Tech Sgt. Steveison Ivory, 4th Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant.

The partnership with local law enforcement took center stage at the Seymour Johnson AFB celebration.

“I believe local law enforcement has a greater stressor, and I think that, as military, we have a certain area that we call our own,” said Tech Sgt. Gabriel Barker, 4th SFS day-shift flight chief. “Even though our job may be a little different than civilian law enforcement, we all fight the exact same fight. We’re here to protect and serve to the very best of our ability. Sometimes that can be challenging, but more often, it can be very satisfying and fulfilling.”

Also happening this week, the first New York City police officer killed in Iraq while serving as an Army Reserve soldier will be honored in the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Staff Sgt. James D. McNaughton’s name was dedicated, along with other police officers who died in the line of duty, during the 29th Annual Candlelight Vigil at 8 p.m. on May 13.

According to the U.S. Army Reserve, McNaughton graduated from the police academy shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and volunteered to go to Iraq in 2005. While there, he volunteered for a dangerous mission, which ultimately cost him his life.

“We gathered all the civilian police officers in the unit and told them what the situation was. They were to train Iraqi police,” said Brig. Gen. John Hussey, who was McNaughton’s battalion commander at the time and is now commander of the 1st Brigade, Great Lakes Division, 75th Training Command in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

“Jimmy McNaughton stepped forward. He stepped up because he knew a lot of these guys were married and had kids, and he didn’t want them to be put in harm’s way,” Hussey said.

Hussey made it a personal mission to have McNaughton’s name included in the police memorial wall in Washington after it had once been denied.

The line between military law enforcement officers and civilian police is often blurred. Many police officers begin their careers in the military, and some civilian officers serve as reserve military police or security forces.

A 2003 U.S. Navy article noted an uptick in the number of U.S. Navy recruits joining with the intent to serve in the Navy’s security force. Navy masters-at-arms candidates participate in six weeks of specialized training at the Law Enforcement/Master-at-Arms (or LE/MA) School at Naval Technical Training Center at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio.

The Naval Education and Training Command has graduated more than 15,000 sailors from its master-at-arms “A” school between 2005 and 2013. Previous to 9/11, the Navy had graduated about 1,000 sailors total.

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