Who Do You Drive For?

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

I first saw it on a friend’s car from church, and her hubby’s (vehicle) has it also =] So I looked in to it and found out it supports our officers, and I loved that! =]

God Bless all the police officers that protect and serve =]”

-Gina F

 

Photo Credit: Monroe Police Department

We chose to get the LEO Plate the first year they came out.

We did this to support LEO because we feel it is our duty as an LEO family.  It is a good way to pay it forward.

We honor all those LEO who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

My husband’s PCSD detachment has suffered losses in recent years and it simply adds another level to the reason ‘why’.

Please know that no reason is minor or any less than another -it simply makes the view more defined.

 

We proudly sport our standard LEO plate.”

Roberta W

“I recently submitted the paperwork to get the LEM plate with 1N11. 1N11 was the call sign on the radio for Detective Jeremy Brown. As a fellow LEO, this is how we know each other, by our call signs. This is how we hear each other throughout the day, how our dispatchers check on us, how we know if someone is busy or free for a coffee, how we message on the mobile dispatching program, etc.  It’s the distinction from one officer, deputy, or trooper to another.

Jeremy Brown was like a brother to me. He was one of those guys that you could call for anything and he would be there. He stood up for his friends and family, even when it was hard or difficult. If you were in his circle, you were special because not everyone got to see him up close and personal. He loved his wife, his family, his friends, and especially his grandkids hard.  He was funny and fun to be around. He was one of the good ones and he is truly missed by many.

It’s been an honor to know him and be loved by him. And it’s an honor to continually remember him. I am hopeful to get this 1N11 plate, so his legacy is forever remembered in yet another way.”

Sincerely,

Andilee J

*Follow up to this post: Andilee was approved for these plates and is anxiously awaiting their arrival!

 

Jeremy Brown

Clark County Sheriff’s Office

EOW: 07/23/2021

“My dad was Heinz Stettinius, hence the “Heinz57” plate. I gave it to him as a birthday present one year and his comment was “a gift I get to keep paying for”, always with a smile on his face. I am honored to be able to continue to use it!

I took over my dad’s personalized plate after he passed and changed to a LEM plate because he was a Pierce County Reserve Sheriff for many many years (almost a long as I can remember). It is an honor to drive with my dad’s plates, but especially to celebrate his love of being involved in the Law Enforcement community.”

-Suzanne L

“My ‘story’ is simply that I always want to support our law enforcement community.  They work hard and often have to deal with people who are, shall we say, less than supportive or cooperative.  I know that the sheriffs and police are not quite the same thing, but both represent law enforcement.  I attended the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Citizen Academy a few years back and was both awestruck and flabbergasted by what I learned.  So many things to deal with!  Even had a nighttime ride along with one deputy that included a high-speed chase.  My heart was in my throat and my restraint was on full tight!   Afterwards I got to play tug with the K9 officer (I’m a dog lover, too).   I often encounter police officers when on the trail, and always tell them thanks for what they do.  Some seem surprised, but all have been gracious.”

-Karen H

 

**Funny Story from the Office. I ran into the lovely Karen H quite literally in the middle of a street while collaborating with Redmond Police Department on this project. She had no idea we were taking photos of the Law Enforcement Memorial Plates and was a great sport about me asking for her story.

-Tracy!

 

In case you are still wondering… her plates are a nod to the movie “SpaceBalls” and “Ludicrous Speed!”

“I was born and raised here in Washington but moved to Arizona when I was 16. When I bought my first car, first thing I did was purchase special plates for fallen officers in Arizona. When I moved back up here to Washington in 2012, I immediately ordered a Behind the Badge Law Enforcement Memorial plate for my vehicles. In 2013, I started my career as a police officer and have since grown to appreciate what that plate symbolizes and represents even more. I still have that same LEM plate on my vehicle to this day and have made sure that all my vehicles are outfitted with LEM plates. I feel proud to brandish the LEM plate and support the families of the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives to serve our communities. I would urge anyone and everyone, whether you’re in law enforcement or not, to show your support and purchase a Law Enforcement Memorial Plate.”

 

-Officer Derrick Lether

Monroe Police Department

 

Photo Credit: Monroe Police Department

*Special Thanks to the Monroe Police Department for their collaboration on this project

“Having been born into a law enforcement family I jumped at the opportunity to purchase my plate when they were first issued!  I have faithfully been LEM 0537 on multiple vehicles since 2005!  The only thing that delayed my purchase was the birth of my youngest daughter that same month!  My husband and daughter carry on the LEO torch in our family now.  Every car we have carries an LEO plate because I chose to support those that have given so much for our communities.”

-Marlo

 

*Special Thanks to the Redmond Police Department for their collaboration on this project

“LEM 0130. Really, the number signifies nothing. It’s not my father-in-law’s badge number from Lynden PD. It isn’t his volunteer firefighter number. It isn’t his Border Patrol badge number. Its just an assigned number from the DMV.

But if you look at closer, LEM 0130 tells a bigger story.

Look at where it says “1099 Foundation”. This plate was from the beginning, way back in 2005. I had been married to my husband, Dave, for only 2 years in ‘05. The plate numbers were assigned on a first come first serve basis. There were only 129 plates ordered before LEM 0130. You couldn’t order personalized plates back then. So, 0130 became my number.  His dad, Patrolman Jack “Griff” Martin, had served his last day on the job and on earth on August 9th, 1988.  I have read the police report of his murder. I have looked at lots of family photos and heard many stories of my father-in-law. But I never got to meet him. I have never heard his voice. I will never know what ticks my husband has because of his dad. But yet, this mystery man is central to Dave’s past and future, which makes him part of my present.

LEM 0130. Look again at the picture.

There is a big rip starting at the top of the license plate. The plates were all I kept from my car less than a year after attaching LEM 0130. An uninsured and no license driver totaled that car. But LEM 0130 stayed alive, becoming part of my subsequent vehicles. The rear plate had built up a tag pile so deep I finally had to scrape it off last November. The plates are cracked, bent, and weathered. But LEM 0130 started something for me. These plates started my relationship with Griff. As I type this, I look across the room to his picture on the wall. He’s smiling a smile I will never see in person on earth. But LEM 0130 is the handshake between me and Griff. It’s my way to keep his legacy alive for my husband, kids, and grandkids. And for me. Afterall, though I never had a chance to get to know Griff alive, he gave me my hubby!

LEM 0130 will be with me until there is no way to keep it on a rig anymore. Ripped, cracked, fading, it built my relationship with a man I never met.

-TJ Martin

Mom/Nana

 

 

Jack G. Martin

Lynden Police Department

EOW: 08/09/1988

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

EOW 03-26-1998

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.

-Michelle Ranous

 

Sean M. O’Connell

Washington State Patrol

EOW: 05/31/2013

“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.”

-Cheryl Jordan

Secretary, Behind the Badge Foundation Board of Directors

Surviving daughter of

Robert W Varner, Jr

EOW: 01/02/1989

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 tracy@nullbehindthebadgefoundation.org