State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) reminds constituents that the second Friday in February is Blue Friday in New York State. This year Blue Friday falls on February 10th.
"2005 was the first year that this commemorative day was observed," Senator Farley explained. "I worked with radio station WGNA in creating this official day in New York State to salute law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and to support the families of fallen officers."
"People are encouraged to wear the color blue on February 10th to show respect for those killed in the line of duty and to show how grateful we are for the service of the brave men and women who are currently serving in law enforcement," Senator Farley added.
February was chosen as the month for this observance as February 12, 2004, was the day Albany Police Officer Lt. John Finn was shot and killed while on duty. Another local officer who is remembered as part of Blue Friday is Schenectady Police Officer Eric Verteramo who died in a car accident while responding to a report of a motorcycle-pedestrian accident.
According to the group Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), each year between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and C.O.P.S., over 150 officers died in the line of duty in 2005. Roughly the same amount were also killed in 2004, mainly through traffic-related accidents and shootings. The names of these fallen personnel will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., joining the names of over 17,000 officers killed in the line of duty over the past 200 years.
In addition to honoring the fallen, the New York State Legislature passed bills in December 2005 that Governor George E. Pataki signed into law increasing the penalties for gun trafficking and shooting police officers. Senator Farley also reported that Governor Pataki committed some 100 New York State Police officers to partner with federal firearms experts to better track and prosecute sellers of illegal weapons. This initiative is in addition to Operation IMPACT that is currently in effect in Schenectady. The IMPACT program partners State troopers with local law enforcement officers to perform patrols and fight illegal guns and gangs in the City of Schenectady.