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Developing a Mourning Band Protocol

Steve Weiss, The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc.

The mourning band is the traditional way for a law enforcement officer to publicly mourn the death of a fellow officer. A common request received at the Officer Down Memorial Page is for information on how and when to wear a mourning band. While there is no national standard, it is important that each agency has a written protocol regarding the wearing of mourning bands.

Because there is no national standard, it is important that each individual agency has its own mourning band policy. The following guidelines provide a good starting point for any agency that is attempting to create such a policy. Once an agency establishes its mourning band policy it is important, for the sake of uniformity, that each officer strictly adheres to the policy.

The following are suggested guidelines for the wearing of mourning bands.

For agencies with multiple precincts or stations, such as a state police agency or large city / county department

  1. Wear a mourning band upon the line of duty death of any member of the agency
  2. Members of the officer’s precinct / station should wear the mourning band from the time of death until 2400 hours 30 days following the death
  3. Members of the officer’s agency that are assigned to precincts / stations other than the one to which the officer who died was assigned should wear the mourning band from the time of death until 2400 hours the day of the funeral

For agencies with only one station, such as smaller town police departments or sheriff’s departments

  1. Wear a mourning band upon the line of duty death of any member of the agency
  2. Wear the mourning band from the time of death until 30 days following the line of duty death
  3. Wear a mourning band upon the line of duty death of any law enforcement officer within the county where your agency is located from the time of death until 2400 hours the day of the funeral

For all agencies, regardless of size

  1. Wear a mourning band at the line of duty funeral of any law enforcement officer, or member of the United States armed forces, who died in the performance of duty
  2. Wear a mourning band at the non line of duty funeral of any active law enforcement officer or retired law enforcement officer
  3. Wear a mourning band on May 15th, National Peace Officers Memorial Day, each year (United States flags should also be flown at half mast on this day)
  4. Wear a mourning band at any line of duty memorials, such as wall or plaque dedications.

In addition to having a written policy regarding when a mourning band should be worn, it is also important that each agency has a policy regarding how it should be worn. Some important points of such a policy are:

  1. For round, square and “shield” type badges, the mourning band should be horizontal on the badge and centered half way between the top and bottom.
  2. For star shaped badges, the mourning band should be diagonal, going from right to left, with the high point on the right.
  3. Never allow a mourning band to cover a badge number.

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    DALLASCRANE

    over 3 years ago

    19386 Comments

    There is also a flag policy that varies with the discretion of each department.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    LEO508WPD

    about 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    Mantis, My wifes parents were murdered by a neighbor in '85. He came next door with a 12 gauge shot gun and opened fire on a family gathering over loud music, the first of which killed her father, two small puncture wounds to his chest one of which struck his heart killing him instantly. After firing a few more times wounding my wifes mother, he then picked her up by the throat, laying her on top of her dead husband and then shooting her at point blank. A few years later my wifes oldest sister who was hit by spray during this tragedy had a child who passed at the age of 2 due to negligence on the parents behalf to a drowning. My wifes Grandfather (her fathers father) was a WWII vet who was one of the most caring, loving people I have ever met in my life, took his wife and his own life following these events, having to watch my wife and her 4 siblings scattered to different families and then learn that he was going to lose his home due to the financial strains of trying to keep them all together. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is what you are saying is that he did not deserve to be burried with full honors and recognized for his sacrifices to his family and country because his actions were selfish?

    Respectfully #508

  • Draped_badge_max50

    184retired

    over 4 years ago

    3804 Comments

    Mantis I used to think the same way...I watched my friend (officer) die of a gsw to the head...First officer on scene..His wife told him she was leaving him and he was very much in love with her. She was walking around with brain matter on her shirt like it didn't matter...It haunts me to this day. And that officer was the one that fought to have suicides get death benefits when his friend (another officer) killedI himself two years prior, ironically my now ex-husband was the first on the scene for that one..

    I.used to think that we shouldn't honor them..I have been gone since 1996 in my time on right now I can think of 6 that killed themselves...I remember saying to my Sgt. we shouldn't be doing this for a suicide,,,but he explained depression comes with the job..I have since learned it is a physical problem and cops are to stubborn to admit that there is something wrong and don't get help because then they are seen as weak...I look back at all that I have seen on my short 14 year career and while I am not depressed or suicidal, I do have PTSD...I handle it I don't have nightmares and all, but every once in a blue moon something happens and watching my friend die comes back to me...So lets give these guys the benefit of the doubt and realize that there is something else going on in their lives and for whatever reason they couldn't handle it anymore...

    Our deparrtment is about 800 and they have a huge amount of chaplins..If your having problems you call the chaplan and he will ride your shift with you..While I never used it, I think it is a Fantastic idea...They even walk the beat on the oceanfront in the summer and it has helped qwell a lot of the usual tourist stupidity...

    What was kind of weird after watching the suicide was that I was literally walking around in a fog for the entire time I was there..Just going through the motions. The only thing I remeber I did right was use the phone to notify dispatch rather than the radio so the press wouln't show up...I couldn't sit with him, thank God his sister in law was there and she held him until the parametics came...At least they were able to salvage his organs and save some other lives..But only one person asked if I was ok and I said yea why shouldn't I be?...Till the day of the funeral and it hit me like a ton of bricks..But I handled it and went on with business as usual just like we all do..

  • Draped_badge_max50

    184retired

    over 4 years ago

    3804 Comments

    jd4813 While we work closely with the fire department and mourn your losses just the way you mourn ours, No you don't drape your badge for a police officer,,,Same as we don't drape ours when you lose one of your commrades..Just fly the flag at half-staff, I think it is until the day after burial..Been out of the game a while so correct me on the flag if I am wrong...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    jd4813

    over 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    should a fire dept wear the band for the funeral of a police officer who was murdered from our small town

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    laguard1a

    almost 5 years ago

    2 Comments

    Would you wear a mourning badge to a "LODD Memorial Tribue" where a Special Agent's family will recieve a Purple Heart 2 years after his death?

  • Praying_mantis_3_max50

    Mantis

    about 5 years ago

    174 Comments

    Wrong! My "judgement" is sound! People including peace officers that take thier own lives display in thier final act more selfishness than any other act they have ever performed before. That is what suicide is.

    As far as his heart goes I have no intrest in "judging" that, that is God's place not mine. We are required to judge the actions of others and call them what they are. I will not honor anyone who takes his own life out of selfish reasons. If he had jumped in front of a bullet to save another officer I would be first in line to sing his praises.

    Suicides do not deserve the same honors as those who have been killed in the line of duty, to do so would dishonor those who paid the ultimate sacrifie, not just gave up.

  • Aco-sympathy_card_-_front_max50

    stmelangell

    about 5 years ago

    2 Comments

    Hey, not so judgmental, please. An officer who commits suicide may be just as much dead because of a job hazard -- stress, loneliness, and despair -- as someone who gets shot by a fleeing perp. Until we can see into people's heads, we have no way of knowing differently, either. We honor service deaths without spending too much time criticizing the dead officers for any lack of judgment they may have shown in placing themselves in jeopardy. Same difference.

  • Praying_mantis_3_max50

    Mantis

    about 5 years ago

    174 Comments

    If you take your own life you do no deserve the honor of being mourned! That honor is set aside for selflessness not selfishness!

  • Dsc00228_max50

    jlee565

    over 5 years ago

    32 Comments

    What about the protocol for wearing a mourning band for an officer from another agency? How far away? In your geographic area or the whole State? We have been having this discussion around our station.

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    finney

    over 5 years ago

    2 Comments

    what is the protocols for active officers who commit suicide?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Gator13

    over 5 years ago

    32 Comments

    We wear ours from death until burial.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Gator13

    over 5 years ago

    32 Comments

    You can order mourning bands from ODMP.

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    fourtyyears

    over 5 years ago

    2 Comments

    If you wear a cloth shield, what type of mourning band would you use? Are there pin-on or velcro-affixed devices?

  • New-patch_max50

    SMW4747

    over 5 years ago

    1168 Comments

    Wear the band only at the funeral in that case.

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