Description and Analysis

Modern Commemoratives

Description & Analysis

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC on October 15, 1991. It recognizes the more than 14,000 peace officers of all public services killed in the line of duty. To provide funding for the maintenance of this memorial and for scholarships to slain officer’s families, in 1996 Congress authorized the coining of up to 500,000 commemorative silver dollars. A surcharge of $10 per coin was included within the sales price of each silver dollar, and this issue was offered from September 19, 1997 through December 15, 1998.

The obverse of this coin is derived from a photograph taken at the memorial by Larry Rugeri. It shows U. S. Park Police Officers Kelcy Stephansson and Robert Chelsey making a pencil rubbing of a fellow officer’s name. Designed and sculpted by the U. S. Mint’s Al Maletsky, his initials appear below the memorial tablet. Arcing around the upper border is the inscription “NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS MEMORIAL,” and this circle is completed with “LIBERTY” and the date of coining. The statutory motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” is placed above the two figures.

Maletsky also drew and sculpted the reverse design, which features the memorial’s logo. The shield represents all law enforcement officers, while the rose superimposed over it symbolizes the sacrifice of the fallen. The motto “TO SERVE AND PROTECT” is below the shield, and these elements are flanked at left and right by single oak branches. The coin’s mintmark is centered below the central devices, with statutory legends completing this side.

Both editions of this silver dollar were coined at the Philadelphia Mint. The modest sales of this issue were in line with other commemoratives of the time, the proofs outselling the uncirculated coins almost four to one.