Local, state, and federal peace officers who have died in the line of duty are honored each year on Peace Officers Memorial Day. Flags are at half-staff today for the observance. On June 25, 1930, two officers were shot and killed in Washington. Marshal Aaron Bailey of the Washington Police Department and Washington County Sheriff William Fred Sweet were shot after arresting a man for stealing a car in Ottumwa. Bailey and Sweet stopped the stolen car near Washington and took the driver to the county courthouse. While being searched, the suspect pulled out a revolver and opened fire. Bailey was shot twice and Sweet three times. Gunshots were exchanged and the suspect fled the scene. He was at-large for four years. On January 6, 1934, the suspect was shot and killed by members of the Chicago Police Department.

Washington is also the hometown of FBI Special Agent Terry Anderson who died in the line of duty while rescuing a kidnapped teenager in Pennsylvania. The 17-year-old girl had been abducted and was held captive for seven days in the Shade Gap Incident in May of 1966. Peggy Ann Bradnick was rescued.

In 2018, 158 officers across the country were killed in the line of duty.