National Police Week 2023
I am grateful for our law enforcement officers here in DeSoto County, across Florida and the United States of America. These law enforcement professionals stand between us and those wishing to cause harm, steal and commit other crimes as they feel it is their right to victimize at will. I have written about Police Week in the past, but I always feel led to write about it as we approach the month of May each year. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. During this time, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, DC, our Nation’s Capital to participate in several planned events honoring those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Although we may not be in Washington, DC we should pause for a few minutes from our daily walk to join our fellow citizens and law enforcement professionals in honor of those who have laid down their lives in the line of duty.
I personally know and you may know of a family or family member or friend of a family working in the law enforcement profession who has been taken from us to soon while serving as a protector in our community.
Our hearts go out to the families left behind to find their way in the world without the loved one at their side. We look with a sorrowful heart at the child who has lost their father or mother, a spouse wondering how they will continue without their loved one, and a mother and father who has lost a son or daughter.
I am very thankful our DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office has not lost a Deputy Sheriff in the line of duty in recent years but in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s we as a community did.
On February 13, 1892, Deputy Sheriff Herbert Julius Hard was shot during a raid of a “gambling den” south of Arcadia. He had been sworn in on the very day he was murdered. The killer was captured by an angry group and was hung.
On August 22, 1903, Deputy Sheriff Charles Edward Williams was shot and killed as he was trying to assist a Punta Gorda Policeman break up a fight. At the time Charlotte County was a part of DeSoto County. The killers were arrested but were acquitted later.
On November 25, 1916, Deputy Sheriff John Henry Wiggins was attempting to arrest a suspected killer who was on the run for murdering a person earlier that night in Hardee County. At the time Hardee County was a part of DeSoto County. As Deputy Wiggins was performing his sworn duty, the killer took Deputy Wiggins life with a single shotgun blast. The killer was eventually apprehended and after a lengthy court process was found guilty and executed by hanging.
Please allow me to leave you with part of the message President Ronald Reagan conveyed on May 13, 1982, during the “Observance of Police Week” and “Peace Officers Memorial Day”.
“Those Officers who have made the supreme sacrifice have demonstrated their devotion to the fundamental values of decency so essential to the well-being of American Life. It is most fitting that all Americans pay tribute to police officers and that we join with them and the families of their fallen comrades in honoring the memory of those who have lost their lives while protecting their fellow citizens and communities.”
Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your moment of pause in your daily walk as we remember those law enforcement officers who have fallen in service to our communities.
Thank you and God Bless!
Sheriff Jim Potter