On a daily basis, throughout the nation, law enforcement officers are consistently and diligently conducting their assigned duties as well as performing extraordinary and heroic acts. Though they will generally minimize the importance of their actions with a retort that they were just doing their jobs, the fact remains that they go above and beyond what is expected of them and their service warrants recognition.
The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is now in its 18th year of recognizing TOP COPS from around the country. The purpose of their TOP COPS Awards is designed to educate the public about the nation’s heroes and to pay tribute nationally to law enforcement officers in federal, state, county, and local agencies for actions that are above and beyond the call of duty. The TOP COPS are nominated by fellow officers for their outstanding service during the preceding year. “It is totally peer driven,” Bill Johnson, Executive Director of NAPO, said.
The nominators must be sworn officers. “We try to get nominations from all 50 states and territories, and we try to look at the best cases from each state,” Mr. Johnson said. An independent awards selection committee that is comprised of national law enforcement representatives select one TOP COP case from each of the 50 states and U. S. territories. Selections are made from hundreds of nominations. The cases are ranked, and the top ten are chosen. “Our goal is to honor these people,” Mr. Johnson said. He explained that the organization is sensitive to on-going cases with the realization that, in some instances, an underlying case may not have yet gone to court when an officer is nominated.
The officers from the top ten cases are flown to Washington, D. C. for the annual ceremony that is usually held in May at the Warner Theater. NAPO pays for the travel and lodging costs of the winners. Prior to presentation of the awards, a short video of each TOP COP and the story behind the winner is featured. NAPO works closely with celebrities who support the law enforcement community in various ways, and these notables willingly serve as the award presenters. The celebrities are from television programs that include CSI: Miami, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, NICS, Cold Case, 24, and Castle.
Each year, the ceremony highlights a broad range of superb police work that encompasses hostage situations, dramatic rescues, humanitarian service, gun battles, and the resolution of cold cases. This year, as in the past, the host of America’s Most Wanted, John Walsh, will serve as the emcee. Civic leaders, including the President, Vice-President, and Attorney General of the United States, have previously attended and spoken at the ceremony and assisted in honoring the noteworthy and brave men and women. For the past two years, the TOP COPS and their families have been invited to the White House and honored by the President at a Rose Garden ceremony.
NAPO attempts to get as many nominations as possible. “If in doubt, send it in,” Mr. Johnson said. The nomination must involve an incident or case occurring between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, and the entire nomination package must be received by January 11, 2011. A nominator should submit a short essay on why the nominee should be considered for the 2011TOP COPS Award.
For additional information, contact NAPO by phone: (703) 549-0775; online at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen L. Bune is employed as a Victim Specialist in the domestic violence unit of the State’s Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County, Maryland. She serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, where she teaches victimology. Ms. Bune is a consultant for the Training and Technical Assistance Center for the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U. S. Department of Justice. She is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on victim issues. Ms. Bune is Board Certified in Traumatic Stress and Domestic Violence, and she is a Fellow of The Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and the National Center for Crisis Management. She is a 2009 inductee in the Wakefield High School (Arlington, Va.) Hall of Fame. She received the “Chief’s Award 2009” from the Prince George’s County Maryland Police Chief. Ms. Bune appears in the 2010 edition of Marquis' Who’s Who in the World, and Marquis' Who’s Who of American Women.