ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Chattanooga Police Department Sgt. Clay Tolson adjusts his helmet during the Speed Trap fundraiser along East Main Street on Friday, April 5, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The fundraiser was hosted by Handle and Bar and benefited Law Enforcement United. A minimum $5 donation got you entry into the radar races. Sgt. Tolson will take part in a fundraising ride with other CPD officers.

Photo Gallery

Police riding bikes

A team of Chattanooga police officers will set out on their bikes Friday to ride more than 250 miles to raise funds for fallen officers. The effort comes during a year in which one of their own was killed in the line of duty.

It is part of the national Law Enforcement United fundraiser in which thousands of police officers nationwide ride over several days. The ride, now in its 10th year, raised $800,000 last year, and event organizers hope to reach $1 million for this year's event.

"I enjoy the camaraderie and am also a full supporter in what our finances are going to," said Chattanooga Police Department Sgt. Justin Kilgore, who is riding in the event.

The money won't directly impact the family of fallen Chattanooga police officer Nicholas Galinger, who was killed in a February hit-and run, this year as the event provides money to officers killed the previous year. However, he will be on the minds of local officers and his family will be a beneficiary next year.

It'll be the second time a Chattanooga officer is honored in the event — the first being Chattanooga police Sgt. James Timothy Chapin. Chapin was shot responding to a robbery at the U.S. Money Shop on Brainerd Road in 2011. Jesse Mathews, 25, was charged with felony murder, first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 25 years.

"It's pretty significant [honoring the fallen officers]," Kilgore said. " ... it's a small sacrifice we can make for those who were killed."

The event offers six riding options, with routes ranging in distance and length. All of the routes will meet in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

Seven Chattanooga officers will be riding the Tough Ride, stretching 260 miles over three days through a mountainous Virginia route. They will have two support crew and two people riding along on motorcycles. Three officers will ride a four-day, 250-mile route from New Jersey, with one support person and three motorcycle riders.

The cyclists range in ability and experience. Kilgore rides regularly and has participated for years, while others, like officer Michael Ampthor, are taking part for the first time. The officers ride regularly to train and practice on area hills. A group meets a couple of times a week to ride up Raccoon Mountain before work.

Each rider had to raise $1,500, and each support person had to raise $850. The department held a couple of fundraising events, like a Crossfit fundraiser and a bike sprint event, to help the officers reach their goals.

The fundraiser rides raise money for a trio of organizations. The bulk of the funds go to C.O.P.S., or Concerns of Police Survivors, which puts on a retreat for families of fallen officers and sends their children to a kids camp each year. It also gives money to the Officer Down Memorial Page, an online memorial that lists fallen officers, and the Spirit of Blue Foundation, which provides safety equipment to departments. The Chattanooga officers' money will go toward sending children to the camp.

"This ensures that officers who have died in the line of duty aren't forgotten and their families and coworkers aren't forgotten," said Craig Sutter, a Law Enforcement United member with Team Kentucky. "Through each of the charities LEU helps, that benefits the families of the officers who have died but also officers who are working. I find that very fulfilling to know that what we do is very helpful to everyone involved."

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT