Drive Your Support of Law Enforcement
Over 10,500 Supporters of Law Enforcement and Behind the Badge Foundation have purchased a LEM License Plate
Police officers protect and serve our communities 24/7. Displaying LEM special license plates is one way to say, “Thank you!” to the officers who put their lives on the line.
Sales of LEM Special License Plates ensure maintenance of the State Law Enforcement Memorial in perpetuity and assist Washington families of line of duty death. For each plate sold, $28 is forwarded to Behind the Badge Foundation and is tax deductible.
It’s a simple way to say, “We will never forget.”
As early as 1995, the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation (now known as the Behind the Badge Foundation) was determined to build a Law Enforcement Memorial on the State Capitol campus to honor our fallen heroes. But…how to pay for the memorial and its ongoing maintenance?
The Foundation was interested in both a steady source of income and a constant reminder of the sacrifices of law enforcement. The idea of an LEM state license plate was raised. Unfortunately, “special” license plates were not popular with the legislature or the state patrol at that time. Once the support of the state patrol was secured, the legislature agreed to reconsider issuing special plates if there was a definitive show of public support. Foundation volunteers quickly mounted a campaign to collect 2,000 signatures of citizens who would buy the plate. These grass roots efforts were prominent at Husky, Cougar & Seahawks games, and other public venues where they attracted lots of attention to the cause. In short order, the campaign was a success!
In its next session, the legislature passed a bill authorizing more special plates. The LEM plates were issued in January 2005. The LEM Memorial on the Capitol Campus was dedicated in May 2006. Today when we see more than 10,000 LEM plates around the state, we smile with the knowledge that $28 per plate per year goes to support maintenance of the Memorial and services to families of law enforcement members who died in the line of duty.
As the Memorial reminds us, “Their Duty Was To Serve. Our Duty Is To Remember.”
-Patrick and Susan Dunn, Behind the Badge Foundation Past & Current Board Members
When my husband was alive and working at the Omak Police Department, his badge number was 404. Sometimes I would drop by to say hi to him and the dispatcher would get on the radio to call him. She would say: 404, 404B is here at the office to contact you. Then, if he could break free, he would come to the office for a quick visit! Oh how I wish I could have her call him that way still…
Rhea Marshall Clark
Surviving Spouse of Michael W. Marshall
Omak Police Department
I first learned about the Behind the Badge Foundation and the law enforcement memorial plate when I became the chief of police at the University of Washington and helped host a line of duty death at the UW (Joselito Barber EOW 8/13/06). I came to Washington from Albuquerque and had no idea that the Foundation existed. I wanted to help out the Behind the Badge Foundation and when I learned about the LEM plate, I immediately renewed every single one of my husband and I’s plates on our vehicles, motorcycles and trailer. Easy way to sustain an organization that does such valuable work! I encourage everyone to get a law enforcement memorial plate when they ask me how they may support the Foundation and I explain why it is so important to do so every year. I’m proud to display my plates and support the Foundation, honoring those who have lost their lives serving our communities and providing support to their survivors!
Vicky M. Stormo, Retired Chief of Police
President – Board of Directors
Behind the Badge Foundation
I would like to share why we have our plates in our family. My husband and I both have plates to honor our friend Sean O’Connell. WSP1076
He was our good friend and neighbor of ours who died in the line of duty 8 years ago. Behind the Badge Foundation was so helpful and supportive to his family at that time. I continue to be friends with Sean’s wife, Alissa, and their two beautiful children.
Sean was the epitome of what a man, friend, neighbor, and trooper should be. He was everyone’s best friend.
I am proud to have my plates to support the Memorial for all the men and women who give all for us.
Sean M. O’Connell
Washington State Patrol
“I have LEM plates on my cars because I wholeheartedly embrace and support Behind the Badge Foundation, and I love the Memorial that BtBF (formerly WSLEMF) built in Olympia. I was honored to read a group of the names inscribed on the Memorial at its unveiling (in 2006).
I have vanity LEM plates because 50-W 12 is the panel (50-W) and line number where my dad’s name (Robert W Varner Jr) is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial wall in Washington DC.”
Secretary, Behind the Badge Foundation Board of Directors
Surviving daughter of
Robert W Varner, Jr
Over the last 35 years being involved with first responders as a medic, disaster response worker and now as a chaplain, I have been able to help and assist LEO in many situations including LODD’s. For the last 7 years I have been able to work behind the scenes supporting Behind the Badge Foundation as they assisted agencies and families. I have been able to meet and hear the stories of the BtBF response team, the survivors and the volunteers who have such a passion to walk beside those who are on a difficult road of grief.
When I decided to get LEM plates for my vehicle, my husband asked what I would like to have on them. I wanted to honor the officers who have died in the line of duty, their agencies and the families. I thought of those I have met and the memorials I have been too, not only here in Washington but also across the nation. On the Officer Down Memorial Page, I found an hourly statistic on how many officers die in the line of duty (10 year average). I thought this would be an incredible way to honor all officers. I knew the statistic might change. My original plates for my jeep were “63 Hours”. When I bought a new jeep and purchased new plates, I checked that statistic again and the average had changed to 55 hours. I was saddened by this change.
Since getting the plates, I have been asked many times by LEO, Fire, and community members what is the meaning behind my plates. I have been able to share with them that “Every 55 hours an officer dies in the line of duty”. This explanation has opened so many doors of communication with first responders, my friends, my family, and community members. It is a way that I can bring awareness and honor to our current officers and their families and most importantly to those who have died and the families who have lost so much.
The reason I choose to very proudly support law enforcement with my license plate is
my daughter, a Washington State Trooper (Badge #333). She is my beautiful, strong, smart “BabyGirl”. She is married to her best friend, also a Washington State Trooper, and they are raising three beautiful daughters.
If you would like to share your LEM Plate Story,
please email Tracy! at firstname.lastname@example.org