The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) today urged city officials to move quickly in establishing a Purple Heart award.
At a recent meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Commissioner Alan Skobin requested that the Commission begin the process of creating the equivalent of a military Purple Heart award and medal for the Los Angeles Police Department. A motion subsequently introduced by Councilmember Wendy Greuel puts the City Council on record in support of the new honor.
Many law enforcement agencies in the United States have adopted medals similar to the Purple Heart. They include police departments in New York City, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Denver, Las Vegas, Tampa, Tulsa, Spokane and Albuquerque; the Departments of Public Safety in Texas, Utah, New Mexico and Illinois State Police; and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Some agencies call the award the Purple Heart while others call it the Purple Shield.
"The Los Angeles Police Protective League strongly supports Commissioner Skobin's efforts to create an LAPD Purple Heart or Purple Shield award, and urges the members of the Police Commission to act quickly to implement it, thereby recognizing and showing the city's appreciation for the extreme sacrifice of officers and their families made while serving and protecting the citizens of the City of Los Angeles, and also to promote positive morale," said LAPPL President Paul M. Weber.
The idea for the Purple Heart resurfaced after Commissioner Skobin had dinner with five LAPD officers to thank them for their service and to ask for their thoughts how he could be a better police commissioner. As it turned out, two of the officers had been shot in the line of duty. Fortunately, both survived and were able to return to duty. The officers explained to Commissioner Skobin that the emotional trauma was as bad, if not worse than the physical injuries, lasting long after the wounds healed. They also shared how there was no formal form of appreciation or recognition for their sacrifice when they returned to work, even though they had literally taken five bullets for the people of Los Angeles while protecting them against violent and dangerous offenders.
During the Commission meeting, Skobin told his fellow commissioners about the family of a Los Angeles police officer who was murdered in the line of duty. He described the family's trauma and loss, and how much it would mean to the officer's widow and children if the Department recognized his sacrifice with an enduring symbol.
"We believe that the criteria for injuries should encompass traumatic physical injury sustained by an officer as a result of a suspect's action(s) or suspect contact," said Weber."In the case of death, we believe that it should be awarded posthumously when the death of the officer occurs in the line of duty."
"The Purple Heart should be implemented immediately. It will speak volumes about the city's concern for the welfare and safety of police officers, in addition to the city's appreciation for the extraordinary sacrifices made by officers and their families," added Weber.
"Creation of the Purple Heart or Purple Shield award and medal is long overdue for the men and women who serve the City of Los Angeles as police officers, as well as for the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It should go forward because it is the right thing to do – and now the right time to do it," concluded Weber.
Formed in 1923, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents the more than 9,800 dedicated and professional sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPPL serves to advance the interests of LAPD officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. The LAPPL can be found on the Web at www.LAPD.com <http://www.LAPD.com>