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AG Merrick Garland honors fallen officers at Nat'l Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

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Attorney General Merrick Garland, second from right, stands at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Friday, along with memorial fund CEO Marcia Ferranto, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/582d963709b2a22e085cc4fce71bcb1f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Attorney General Merrick Garland, second from right, stands at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Friday, along with memorial fund CEO Marcia Ferranto, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 13 (UPI) -- Attorney General Merrick Garland and other top officials paid tribute on Friday to dozens of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty so far this year, in a wreath-laying ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Garland attended the ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, along with the memorial's CEO Marcia Ferranto, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

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Later, the names of 619 officers that are being added to the memorial wall will be read during a candlelight vigil. That ceremony -- which is part of National Police Week -- will begin at 8 p.m. EDT.

According to data compiled by the memorial fund, two-thirds of the officers who died on duty in 2021 died as a result of COVID-19.

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"This week, we gather to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who sacrificed their lives in service to our country," Garland said in a statement.

"We remember the courage with which they worked and lived. And we recommit ourselves to the mission to which they dedicated their lives.

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"On behalf of a grateful Justice Department and a grateful nation, I extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude to the entire law enforcement community."

The casket of slain New York City police officer Wilbert Mora is carried during his funeral service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on February 2. Mora was shot dead while responding to a domestic disturbance call in a Harlem neighborhood on January 21. His partner, Jason Rivera, was also killed. File Photo by Craig Ruttle/UPI/Pool

President John F. Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week in 1962 to honor fallen and disabled law enforcement officers.

According to FBI data, 73 officers in the United States died in 2021 as a result of felony crimes and 56 died in accidents.

Crime-related police deaths last year increased by almost 60% over 2020, the data show, and there were two dozen police deaths from unprovoked attacks -- the most for any year in three decades of record-keeping.

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