Defenders memorialized during National Police Week, DAF expands Security Forces training

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The names of three Department of the Air Force defenders were among the 556 fallen officers read aloud during the 35th Annual Candlelight vigil May 13 as part of the many events that take place across the country during National Police Week, May 14-19.

The three defenders honored during the vigil were Tech. Sgt. Jason Norton, Staff Sgt. Brian McElroy and Senior Airman Jason Nathan.

“It is important to honor their memories and celebrate the achievements they made to the defense of our nation,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Sherman, director of Security Forces. “National Police Week in general is a time to reflect on those we lost, as well as a time to come together as law enforcement professionals within the Security Forces career field.”

At this year’s vigil, Timothy Gerald, deputy director of Security Forces, attended the vigil to represent the Department of the Air Force defender family.

“Our Department of the Air Force civilian police officers have worked alongside uniformed defenders for more than a decade. Together, our active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian defenders conducting law enforcement make us a stronger fighting force,” said Gerald, who also serves as the senior Air Force civilian and functional manager overseeing all matters concerning the utilization, development and career field management of the 4,600-person DAF civilian security and police force. “Thank you to our Total Force defender family for their dedicated service.”

National Police Week is a time to reflect on the challenges that law enforcement officers face every day. The Security Forces Air Staff continues to support law enforcement officers by ensuring that they have adequate resources and training.

Law enforcement is an important aspect of Security Force’s larger mission of base defense. Defenders protect Airmen, Guardians and their families; defend resources, equipment and capability; and assure that air and space missions supporting the DAF are carried out successfully and securely.

Law enforcement is not only important for the safety and well-being of Airmen—it is also a key force-multiplying capability vested in base defense.

As the Air Staff recognizes law enforcement professionals during Police Week, it also reflects on the major efforts underway to support civilians within its law enforcement community. In 2022, the Security Forces enterprise launched an effort to build the law enforcement specialty directly within the civilian career field. This required selecting a subset of the 43,000 Total Force Security Forces population to be uniquely identified as law enforcement practitioners.

Building on that effort, the Air Staff expanded the Police Officer Training and Standards Accredited Academy to accept military students. This enables the Security Forces enterprise to establish a foundation of base defense training, creating base defense-focused defenders within the basic courses while later selecting Airmen for specialized law enforcement training at the academy.

The Air Force Security Forces Center facilitated funding to increase course availability to 500 students per year. All graduates are credentialed and badged federal law enforcement officers. Finally, to sustain officer skills, the AFSFC will introduce a 40-hour annual recertification course and additional instruction for field training officers, sergeant/supervisors and deputy directors.