Ceremony in Columbia today to honor fallen police officers

"He'd like to wear it every day," said Gilbert Smith of his police-uniform-wearing grandson Mason Driggers of Summerville. Smith, who was shot and paralyzed while working as a Charleston County police officer in 1970, and his 4-year-old grandson were attending the Charleston (city) Police Department's Roll Call of Heroes at Brittlebank Park on Thursday May 17, 2012. The annual observance serves as a reminder of the 21 officers killed in the line of duty since 1879 and is a part of National Police Memorial Week. (Wade Spees/postandcourier.com)

The South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police will host a memorial candlelight service for fallen officers today in Columbia.

The service will beging at 8 p.m. at the law enforcement memorial on the State House grounds.

The service is part of National Police Week. Charleston police held a similar memorial Thursday in Brittlebank Park to honor its fallen officers,

On average, one law enforcement officer is killed somewhere in America nearly every other day, according to the FOP.

A dozen officers have been killed in the Palmetto State since 2008. The latest line-of-duty death occurred on Jan. 28 in Aiken when Master Corporal Sandy Rogers was shot and killed while responding to a call for a suspicious vehicle at Eustis Park.

In all, 364 South Carolina police officers have died in the line of duty.

Nationally, last year was one of the deadliest years for law enforcement in recent memory. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 177 officers died in the line of duty, and for the first time ever, firearms were the leading cause of death, outpacing traffic-related deaths.

The first known line-of-duty death in America occurred in 1791, when Constable Darius Quimby was shot and killed in New York’s Albany County. Since then, over 16,000 officers have died while performing their duties, according to the FOP.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.