National Police Week brings thousands of officers to DC

If you’ve noticed more police around the District this week, you’re not alone.

According to the organizers of National Police Week, between 25,000 and 40,000 visitors come to the event each year, many of them law enforcement with their vehicles from across the country.

D.C. residents may also notice a few additional police escorts around downtown.

It’s part of a small gesture to honor the great loss the families of fallen officers endure.

National Police Week brings thousands of officers to DC

FOX 5 spoke with the family of fallen Chicago Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso Tuesday.  He died in the line of duty on March 1, 2023.

His sister-in-law says the family has been honored by the tributes for National Police Week festivities.

"It’s huge. I think for the whole family, the fact that we can grieve and we can grieve along with other police officers’ families, it means a lot to us; just that we can hold this flag and feel very proud of who he was and what he did," said Claudia Narvaez DeVasquez, who’s husband is also a Chicago Police officer.

The origins of the week were in 1962 when President Kennedy declared May 15 Peace Officers Memorial Day.  

From that, in 1984, National Police Week and the festivities in Washington D.C. were born.

The event honors fallen officers, connects families with resources that may be helpful and is a chance for police around the country to showcase everything from their honor guards to vintage police cars.

"Just over 20 years, I’ve had the honor to come back and help support this as a committee member, and I’m prideful every year that I come back to do this, it’s an honor," said Ken Roske, Chief of Police in Pasco, Washington in the Pacific Northwest.

On Monday night, there was a vigil to honor the nation’s fallen officers, and on Wednesday, Roske says President Joe Biden will address the families.

National Police Week brings thousands of officers to DC

Ellen Spencer is a longtime D.C. resident who told FOX 5 she tries to make it to some events every year.  She says the added presence and escorts that come with it don’t bother her.

"I’m fine with it," Spencer said. "I have lived through it for a number of years, so I know what to avoid, and where to walk and where not to drive."

As for the ceremonies honoring the fallen officers: "That’s really very nice. I find this very heartwarming to see police officers taking care of each other like this, and the families," Spencer said.

The final official event for the week is Thursday; it's a conference to help families and friends of fallen officers deal with grief and loss.