XU Officer Rides for Fallen Comrades
Xavier University Police Department bike officer Mike Long made the 250-mile Police Unity Tour bike ride May 10-12 , riding from Portsmouth, VA, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum in Washington. Every May 12, bicyclists and supporters converge at the Memorial at 3 pm for a ceremony honoring fallen officers.
Participants each raise at least $2,000 to be able to participate; Long raised more than $2,400. Fairfield Cyclery donated maintenance on his bike and prepared it for the tour.
More than 2000 officers from around the country, enough to make a line 3 miles long, participated in the Tour and raised $1.65 million.
“To be in a place with the families of those who have died in the line of duty and to be surrounded by police officers who also completed the difficult three-day ride in tribute was bittersweet and an honor,” he said.
Long rode in memory of Sgt. Brian Dulle of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, who was struck and killed by a fleeing suspect on May 10, 2011. He left behind a wife and three children, one of whom was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer in 2003. Long attached a memorial plaque to his bike, which he gave to Dulle’s family at the end of the ride.
“His death affected so many officers in the area,” Long said, “and I felt a real connection to him — I lost my brother, who was also named Brian, in 2006, and I have three children. I wanted to dedicate my ride to him.”
Strong winds made the ride especially grueling this year, Long said, with winds blowing from 17-36 mph on the first, longest day of the race. “It made what was supposed to be a 10-hour ride more like a 12-hour ride,” he said. “But we just tried to remember what we were riding for and push through it.”
Support from strangers made it easier. When traffic had to stop to let the Tour through, some people would get out of their cars to cheer. “We went by military bases and soldiers would get out of their vehicles for us,” he said.
Long belongs to the Florida chapter of the Police Unity Tour, which is open to active or retired law enforcement officers, their families, survivors of fallen officers, or people sponsored by members. He used his vacation time for the trip and paid his own travel expenses.
Meeting so many other officers and their families, Long said, was especially xxx. “The brotherhood within law enforcement is very strong,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the university police or in the FBI — you’re a brother or a sister.”
Donations to Officer Long’s 2012 ride are closed. If you would like to make a donation, Long suggests sending a contribution to Maddie’s Hope, the charity set up by Sgt. Brian Dulle’s family to help fight pediatric cancers.
Photos courtesy Mike Long; see his Facebook page for a gallery.