FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — Across the nation, loved ones honor fallen officers during National Police Week.
Their names are on a list that gets longer every year.
The Fayette County Memorial Lodge Fraternal Order of Police hosts a memorial ceremony every year to remember these fallen officers. There are more than two hundred names on the list, and their fellow officers took turns to read their names.
Beckley Police Corporal Charles Smith is one of the names on those lists. The 29-year-old detective was the dad of a toddler when city police reported he was shot to death in while working undercover in 2006. Every year, his family gathers at the Fayette County courthouse lawn for the memorial.
We came to be with his mother and just to honor his memory and all the other fallen officers. I think that’s great they do it every year. I think it’s very honoring. I think it’s a special thing that they do it, and I’m glad the other officers come out and take a moment and just remember his life,” said Trena Canaday, a family member of Smith.
The FBI reports in 2021, more than one hundred officers lost their lives in the line of duty. Those who sponsor the West Virginia event said the safety of younger officers is one way to honor those who already gave their lives in the line of duty.
“The basic thing that most departments do is training. Again the better trained you are as a police department, the better you’ll be able to do. Our department and a lot of other departments have went to mandated vest wearing. You have to wear your bulletproof vest at all times while you’re on duty. That’s a big help. A lot of these officers that are on the list, didn’t have that option at the time they became a police officer, so that has helped. I know Oak Hill themselves has had two police officers shot and the vests actually saved them,” said Sgt. James Pack, the president of the Fayette County Memorial Lodge Fraternal Order of Police. “It’s extremely important for these young officers to see this is a reality that we face every day. You wake up, you go to work every day. That doesn’t mean you get to come home, in our profession. I don’t know many other professions that do that.”
Sgt. Pack said the important people of the day are those West Virginia officers whose names are read from the list.