By Michael Ramos
In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. The purpose is to pay tribute to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives while serving in the line of duty.
Like many of you, I understand and respect the great sacrifices our brave, devoted officers make every day protecting us from danger. They risk their lives and put their personal safety at risk to make sure that we are safe. It’s a selfless endeavor and a truly honorable path that only a few can and will choose to take as a career.
Sadly, though, some officers pay the ultimate price while protecting and serving our communities. Last year, we lost 12 officers in California, a number that always carries significant weight, no matter how high or low it may appear. One fallen officer is one too many.
As district attorney of San Bernardino County, I have been blessed to work with these heroes. I have witnessed firsthand the dedicated efforts that go into not only ensuring our personal security and protecting our families, but the tireless work that enables our prosecutors to effectively do their job in the courtroom. The numbers I see that come out of our Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit are always staggering because, to me, they are more than just another filed case or sentencing. Each case, each defendant represents a blatant disdain for law and order. As far as I am concerned, any individual who will assault or interfere with an officer carrying out his or her duties is a threat to law and order and an even bigger threat to every law-abiding citizen.
In 2016 — in our county alone — 214 defendants were sentenced to state prison for a total of 747 years for committing crimes against peace officers. In that same year, an additional 1,146 defendants were sentenced to county prison and county jail for a total of 428 years. As for new cases filed that same year, 346 other officers were victims of crime. We will continue to hold those who assault, injure or threaten our officers accountable for their actions.
While today may be a yearly observance, let us not forget the daily sacrifices our law enforcement officers make throughout the entire year. Today we take pause and mourn those we have lost and pray for the families they have left behind. Tomorrow, let us work even harder to prevent future tragedies and find ways to show our gratitude for those who rush to our aid when we are faced with life-threatening danger.
Michael Ramos is San Bernardino County district attorney.