No, not Christmas, that’s become:
too predictable -baby in a manger, no room at the inn, etc. its the same every year – same story all the time
too expensive – apparently the price of mistletoe is going up owing to short supply owing to good/ bad weather (delete as appropriate)
too commercialised – did you know you have to buy things
an excuse to argue with the family – who needs excuses- I manage this all year round
about what Satan is bringing – whoops sorry should be SANTA – to those who have not been naughty
Despite the temptation I did not tell Tom that Santa Claus was dead
So what time of year is it?
Its time to start thinking about the Police Unity Tour bike ride again. Its only 5 months away now. I have got my place confirmed and am looking forward to pedalling again from East Hanover in New Jersey to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington DC.
300 miles cycling in four days, nearly 7000 feet of climbing and something in the region of 22 hours in the saddle burning nearly 10,000 calories.
Now you may think I’m mad or that it would be easier to hire a car and drive the route. Well it would, but that would not raise money for all those brave law enforcement officers killed each year and their families. This year already, 155 officers have been killed in the USA. This has been a relatively good year by police standards. Back in 2001, 242 officers were killed and most years the total is around 150-200 officers killed.
There are not many professions where that many people are killed each year. No one should be killed doing their chosen career. Especially when that career is to serve the public.
Now, you may be wondering what I am doing raising money for police officers killed in the USA when I am English and when I have a background as a defence lawyer and have been known to have upset numerous police officers, especially in Northumbria Police as a result of doing my job. Barcelona 0 Leicester 1 (own goal) being the most recent example.
Well in late 2009, an exchange of emails with cyclists in Ohio about places to cycle there whilst visiting friends in Hudson Ohio, produced a left field remark about a ride for law enforcement officers.
The chance to take part in a big ride in the USA seemed to be too good an opportunity to miss. So I asked for a place and with the help of Michael T Rae, an attorney at the US Postal Service, my role as a legal inspector was deemed to be sufficiently in law enforcement to qualify me to ride.
The ride in 2010 was part of a holiday to the USA. I drove to see my friends in Hudson and then drove to NJ to join the ride. It was such a fantastic event- the cause was very special and it was moving to hear the stories of the surviving relatives of deceased officers as those survivors rode with us.
Reaching Washington DC and seeing the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial with 20,000 deceased officer’s names inscribed upon it was an incredibly moving sight.
Going back in 2011 was a no brainer for me. This was an event that I was proud to support and honoured to be able to take part in.
For 2012 I am going back again and am accompanied by at least one English officer, and possibly more. Paying to fly out to the USA to take part in this event is a small price to pay. The sweat and effort on the ride is a pleasure for the cause.
Now, I know that many people will be surprised that I am taking part in an event organised by police officers and for the benefit of police officers and their surviving families. As I have said before I have had a number of professional clashes with the police in this country. However, despite this, no one deserves to die doing their job.
My taking part in the ride is not my going “native” but is part of my stance as a lawyer committed to justice. Justice is not partisan but is for all.
We are lucky in this country that we do not lose anything like the numbers of officers killed in the USA. This year there have been 9 police officers killed in the UK. One by a terrorist bomb in Northern Ireland, one whilst assisting a broken down car on the M1, and the remaining 7 in road accidents travelling to/ from work.
All these nine in the UK and the 155 in the USA were somebody’s parent, spouse, child. or sibling. The survivors have lost so much and need help, both emotional and physical to come to terms with their loss. Just read these tributes left in 2011 at the memorial.
Below is a breakdown of those 155 deaths in the USA
Total Line of Duty Deaths: 155
Aircraft accident: 1
Animal related: 1
Automobile accident: 35
Duty related illness: 7
Gunfire (Accidental): 4
Heart attack: 10
Heat exhaustion: 1
Motorcycle accident: 3
Struck by vehicle: 4
Training accident: 1
Vehicle pursuit: 4
Vehicular assault: 12
Weather/Natural disaster: 1
New Jersey: 5
New York: 11
North Carolina: 7
North Dakota: 2
Puerto Rico: 4
South Carolina: 2
South Dakota: 3
Tribal Police: 2
U.S. Government: 11
Average age: 41
Average tour of duty: 12 years, 8 months