IACP Tribute to Slain Officers Guidelines for Presentation

The guidelines below are suggestions; following them is not required. Feel free to use these guidelines in any part of a formal or informal presentation. The surviving family's wishes should be paramount.

  • Do not present the tribute before a funeral or memorial service; religious, state, or country services have precedence over all else.
  • Present the tribute up to six months (preferably within the first three months) after the death, depending on the circumstances and time of year.
  • Require full-dress uniform for all police officials, as well as those in the honor or ceremonial units; the presentation ceremony should be formal.
  • Invite all area survivors as well as community, civil, and political leaders, including the heads of all area departments and agencies. Schedule the time and date of the presentation to allow as many officers who worked with the deceased as possible to attend.
  • Provide departmental transportation to and from the ceremony for the surviving spouse, children, and immediate family, including parents and siblings of the deceased officer.
  • Prepare and send press releases, and encourage coverage by local television and radio stations.
  • Videotape the service, if possible, as a keepsake for the family, particularly if the deceased officer had small children who might have difficulty remembering the service.
  • Verbally acknowledge—unless country ethics and customs dictate otherwise—all immediate family survivors attending the service, not just the spouse. One option is inviting the parents of the deceased officer join the spouse on stage or up front.
  • Include in the presentation the formal seating of immediate family (spouse, children, parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles); presentation and retreat of the colors; the singing of the national anthem and other appropriate music; acknowledgment of distinguished guests; and presentation of tribute by the department head. Providing flowers (a corsage for the spouse and mother, or single flowers handed to each family member) is an appropriate touch.
  • Serve light refreshments if possible, to allow the family and coworkers the opportunity to interact. It allows those attending to express their sympathies and concerns not only to the family and department, but to each other as well.
  • Keep boxes of tissues handy in case they are needed during the service.
  • Repeat the presentation the same way for all department line-of-duty deaths. Changing the ceremony based on the type of line-of-duty death may cause additional pain to surviving families.