By Senior Airman Stephen Underwood , 439th Airlift Wing
/ Published May 16, 2019
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy dedicated May 11 – 17 as Police Week to honor officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The Westover ceremony was held in advance to coincide with a Unit Training Assembly, when most traditional reservists were on duty.
The festivities began on May 2 with a 5K Ruck March and ended on May 5, with a closing ceremony to remember and identify the fallen.
“I came into the military in 1998 and the event has been going on since I’ve been in the military,” said Technical Sgt. Jackie A. Hammond, 439th Security Forces Squadron Flight Sergeant. “It’s something we have always done but it didn’t become as big until after 9/11.”
After September 11, 2001 the event took on new significance as the U.S. military began to see increased operations in the global War on Terror.
“We were always deploying as security forces in the years after 9/11 and we wanted to remember the individuals who had fallen,” said Hammond. “Police Week became our means to do that.”
In addition to remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice, Police Week plays an important role in mission readiness and support.
“Most importantly, Police Week boosts morale and comradery within our unit,” said Hammond. “It’s also about raising awareness. A lot of people outside the walls don’t really know what security forces does. They think we just stand at the gate but it’s a lot more than that. It allows people to see everything we do.”
This year’s Police Week featured a number of events and activities as part of the annual festivities, including a Jail and Bail.
“Everyone loves the Jail and Bail,” said Hammond. “Anyone can pay a minimum of $5 to get your co-worker arrested and sent to jail for 30 minutes.”
This year, $2,433 was raised with half of the proceeds going to the Air Force Assistance Fund, which raises money for charities that directly support active duty Airmen, retirees, reservists, guard and dependents.
The funds raised also benefit the unit directly as it helps fund the Defender’s Association.
“With our Defender’s Association it helps with funding a squadron T-shirt or an event that brings comradery and morale in the unit,” said Hammond. “Also, if an Airman has an emergency situation some of the funds may be used to help them which we’ve allocated $1000 to help one of our NCO’s who was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer to help his family travel from Kentucky to Massachusetts.”
The 439th SFS teamed up with the Chicopee Police Department to put on a static display with military weapons and equipment to allow an up close view of the tools and challenges police deal with.
With over 200 personnel in attendance, approximately 80 sixth graders from Bellamy Middle School in Chicopee and 50 JROTC high school students from Albany, New York came out to see the displays and take part in the event.
The Chicopee PD brought out a SWAT vehicle and motorcycle to add to their items on display also Westover EOD and Fire Department also added to the static display.
A 24-hour Memorial Run on Saturday was also scheduled with high interest despite the weather.
“We had a mass list of those who signed up for the guide on run and there were well over 48 people who signed up over 24 hours for 30 minute blocks,” said Hammond.
The week ended with a roll-call and remembrance of those who have fallen.
“The individual names of those that have fallen were called off and there was no answer in return,” said Hammond. “Their biographies were read and we paid tribute.”
Hammond said the weekend long observance is more than just ordinary day festivities.
“You become brothers,” said Hammond. “We’re a big fraternity, you have your disagreements and you have those you don’t get along with and those you do, but when something catastrophic happens you make everything work.”