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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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