A half dozen Chattanooga police officers will be joining officers from all over the country this week on a 250-mile cycling tour to support the families left behind by police who died in the line of duty.
The Chattanooga team participates in the Road to Hope ride annually and has raised nearly $16,000 for Law Enforcement United, a nonprofit organization that organizes the event every year. The officers planned to depart this morning for Atlantic City, N.J., where they will begin a three-day trek to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Rob Simmons, spokesman for the Chattanooga Police Department and one of the officers who will be participating in the tour again this year, said hundreds of of members of law enforcement take part and raise money for families to pay for things such as camp trips and college scholarships.
"Every year, we have several members of the police department who spend the whole year raising money for the Law Enforcement United charity fund," he said. "The money goes directly to the spouses and children of the officer who died."
He said the group charts its course through a string of communities in the area that have lost officers over the years. They pay respects at each memorial and hear from a representative from the agency about the person to whom the memorial is dedicated.
"We'll stop every 15-20 miles and visit a memorial for an officer who died in the line of duty," he said. "That kind of dictates what our route is. You can get from Atlantic City to D.C. quicker, but we're going from memorial to memorial and learning about the officers."
Anyone interested in contributing to the cause can visit the Law Enforcement United website at leunited.org to learn more about the group and/or make a donation. The group also operates an Officer Down Memorial Page that tracks officer casualties in all 50 states.
"Together we will go the extra mile to honor these heroes and help their surviving family members always have the support programs they need to begin to rebuild," reads the group's mission statement online.
Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.