Law Enforcement United “Team Fredericksburg”

by | May 8, 2023 | Events, Police and Fire

Law Enforcement United Virginia Division will start its trek on bicycles from Chesapeake, Virginia to Washington, D.C. for Police Week on May 10, 2023. This yearly ride, named “The Road to Hope,” is their main fundraiser for supporting law enforcement related charities.

The organization was founded in 2009 by a group of law enforcement officers, family members of fallen officers, and citizen supporters who have made it their mission to honor the fallen and remember the survivors. The organization is one hundred percent volunteer driven with no one in the organization receiving a salary. Each member of the group has a fundraising goal which must be met to participate. Each rider must raise $1,750.00 and each support member must raise $1,000.00.

The organization, which started as a group of 120 members, has branched off into five divisions and has raised nine million dollars. The divisions are the New Jersey Division starting in Atlantic City, Pennsylvania Division starting in Reading, the Tough Ride starting in Roanoke, Va., the Ruff Ride starting in Cumberland, Maryland, and the Virginia Division. The Ruff Ride is a mountain bike route that ride in honor of the canines killed in the line of duty. The five divisions will join in northern Virginia and ride into to Washington, D.C. as one group of 400 riders.

The Virginia Division will ride into our area lead by “Team Fredericksburg “who has been a part of the organization from its’ conception. Team Fredericksburg consists of twenty-three members, seventeen riders and six support members. Officers from the Fredericksburg Police Department, the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, the University of Mary Washington Police Department, Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, and the State Department make up the membership of the team. Deputy Sheila Jones of the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office is the president of the Virginia Division which consists of 300 members coming from Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Florida, New York, and California.

The Virginia Division ride is 244 miles long. The first day’s ride is 105.8 miles done in eleven hours. The second day is 84.8 miles, and the last day is 54.3 miles. The riders take breaks every hour to an hour and a half where the support team provides snacks and drinks to refuel the riders. Each riders averages twelve bottles of fluid a day. Many of the drinks and snacks are donated by the community through collections organized by the participating law enforcement agencies with the Fredericksburg area being one of the largest donating areas.

Each member of the organization will carry a bracelet to honor officers who have died in the line of duty in 2021 and 2022. Each member of Team Fredericksburg has a fallen officer that they personally ride to remember also. Some ride in remembrance of Officer Todd Bahr who was killed in the line of duty in Fredericksburg in 2008. Other riders ride in the memory of other officers they worked with, Deputy Bryan Berger and Deputy Dean Riding of Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, and Trooper Lucas Dowell.

Team Fredericksburg is led by co-leaders, Sergeant Michael Lussier of the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office, and Captain Rashawn Cowles of the Fredericksburg Police Department. The team consists of officers of all ranks including Deputies, Officers, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, and Sheriff. Some retirees have returned to participate in the ride. Chief Brian Layton of the Fredericksburg Police Department has participated in previous years and Sheriff Scott Foster of the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office will be participating this year for the third time.

Each member has their own reason for joining the organization. Sheriff Foster says he became involved with the organization to honor fallen officers and to bring attention to the risk each law enforcement officer takes to protect others. Lieutenant Jason Dring of the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office said he joined the organization after being in the honor guard and watching all the riders and vehicles from so many agencies united for the cause of honoring the fallen, he felt that he wanted to be a part of that. Captain Cowles became a member to honor Officer Bahr but continued to ride to honor all the officers killed in the line of duty. Captain Betsy Mason of the Fredericksburg Police Department rides to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and to support the families left behind. She also say “LEU is a great organization that donates money to support programs for the survivors and I cannot think of anything more rewarding than to contribute to that cause. It is the least I can do to keep their memory alive.” Sergeant Lussier joined to initially honor Officer Bahr but the first year he was assigned Officer Travis Murphy of the Phoenix Police Department and now knows it is important to ride for each fallen officer.

The riders are met at the arrival ceremony by the families of the fallen officers. Each rider and support member will seek out the family of the officer on their bracelet and present a flag and the bracelet to the family.

Law Enforcement United supports Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) the officer Down Memorial Page (www.ODMP.org) and the Spirit of Blue. C.O.P.S. provides support and programs for the surviving families and co-workers of fallen officers. The Spirit of Blue mission is to enhance the safety of officers and promote public awareness of their protection. ODMP provides a memorial website for fallen officers. The creator of the page says, “When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation.”

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