Law enforcement officers from across the country will patrol for a different reason this Friday.
Each year, nearly 2,500 law enforcement officers ride bicycles to Washington, D.C. to honor fellow officers killed in the line of duty.
This year, on Friday, some deputies with the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office are riding in the national Police Unity Tour with an additional sentiment: Family.
“It was just one of those things I’ve always wanted to do after seeing them ride through year after year,” Deputy First Class Craig Talbot, 37, said.
This is Talbot’s second year riding in the tour, but this time he will be joined by his 40-year-old brother, Christopher, who is an officer with the Derry Police Department in New Hampshire. He will fly down to Virginia to ride with Talbot all the way from Portsmouth to D.C.
“I told him ‘work on hills,’” Talbot said with a laugh.
Jeff Kerr, the lieutenant of uniform patrol, has been with the sheriff’s office for 26 years and ridden in the Unity Tour for 15 years.
This year, he will also be accompanied by a newcomer: his wife, Shannon, who is riding in the tour for the first time.
The Police Unity Tour runs every year to honor law enforcement killed in the line of duty, as well as help fund the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum in the nation’s capital.
All officers riding in the tour must raise at least $2,000, Jeff Kerr said. In his 15 years riding in the tour, he said he’s probably raised about $40,000.
Last year, the Unity Tour donated about $2.6 million, according to the tour website.
This year, Jeff Kerr is riding in honor of Officer Craig Lamont Shaw, 37, from the Lancaster Police Department in Texas. He was shot and killed by the son of another agency police chief after responding to a report of a shooting at an apartment complex.
Shaw’s widow is on the Board of Directors for Chapter 8 of the Police Unity Tour, along with Jeff Kerr, and is not available to ride this year. Instead, Jeff Kerr will ride in honor of Shaw.
The Williamsburg Police Department will send an officer to escort the bicycles by motorcycle, department spokesman Officer John Heilman said.
James City County Police have seven riders and one support team participating in the tour, department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams said.
Military and 9/11
Talbot will ride for New York Police Detective Michael Lawrence Ledek, who died Feb. 9, 2018. Ledek died from cancer he developed from search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He was 54 years old. Ledek had been with the NYPD for 20 years.
Talbot is also a member of the Army: He was active duty for 10 years and in the reserves for more than 10 years.
He has been in the military about three years when 9/11 happened.
“I’ve deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since,” Talbot said. “It’s fitting we have that connection. 9/11 changed both of our lives.”
History of support
In previous years, Shannon Kerr was at Page Middle School in Gloucester County when law enforcement rode through the area on the tour.
Jeff Kerr said his wife teaches at the school and has traditionally had her students do projects about law enforcement in the spirit of the tour.
In the last year, Shannon Kerr went through training to become an auxiliary deputy with the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office, allowing her to join the force of bicyclists
“She’s been riding with me a long time,” Jeff Kerr said. “It’s going to be pretty awesome.”