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Starting on Sunday, April 30, HSI Special Agent Ellen Pierson will participate in a bike ride to pay tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and the families they leave behind. The Office of Public Affairs will provide daily update on her progress as she makes her way to Washington, D.C., for National Police Week.
Today was awesome! Even though weather was crazy we accomplished our mission by cycling with the families who have lost a loved one. I was joined by retired special agent Kirk Lockwood and ERO Acting Chief of Staff Adam Piceno. Officer Kianka Hunter, who lost her sister in the line of duty, was also with us. We escorted the children of fallen officers on their bikes around New Orleans. I had the honor of escorting Finn McGuire on a bicycle ride to honor his late father, Special Agent Scott McGuire. We called ride at 30 miles due to bad weather, but we got the important job done!
Today was great! We had great weather on our ride from Covington, Louisiana, to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We are often escorted by local agencies along the way to keep us safe. It is great having them with us as they keep us rolling. There were more hills than I expected Mississippi to have, but we conquered them.
We chose to stop in Hattiesburg to honor Hattiesburg Police Officers Benjamin J. Deen and Liquori Tate. The officers were shot and killed during a traffic stop in May 2015. The trial is currently in session for their accused killer.
We rode to the site of the incident and meet their commander at that time. Officer Tate's sister and children were present at the ceremony and I was interviewed by the local news.
We settled for the night at Camp Shelby, a military training center in Hattiesburg.
After leaving Hattiesburg, we made the 90-mile trek up to Jackson, the state capital of Mississippi. When arrived, were welcomed with a ceremony at the Jackson Police Department. That evening, we made our way to the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to honor our fallen colleagues.
It was a great day of riding and we capped the day off with a great dinner at the Barrelhouse Gastropub in Jackson.
Our next destination is Grenada, Mississippi, where we will honor the late Lee Tartt, a Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agent who was killed in a shootout in February 2016.
Thanks for the support!
Today, we continued our journey, making the more than 100 mile ride from Jackson, Mississippi to Grenada, Mississippi.
We were very fortunate to have strong tail winds today and we rolled along at 20 mph barely pedaling. Unfortunately, this will change.
Along the way, we passed through the small town of Vaiden, Mississippi, in Carroll County. The area was in bad shape after being hit hard by the recent storms that hit the south last week.
We were able to meet with Carroll County Sheriff Clay Walker during our stop. Once we made it to Grenada, we ended the day with dinner with Agent Tartt’s family and friends who hosted us for dinner.
Tomorrow we’ll ride from Granada to Tupelo, Mississippi. We will meet with the families of fallen officers and members of the Tupelo Police Department.
I receive a lot of help from my friends I cycle with on this adventure. I stay in the back and hang on. ERO’s Adam Piceno is a great cyclist. He has been tremendous on this adventure.
Thursday was a cold, wet rainy day as we traveled 88.5 miles from Grenada, to Tupelo, Mississippi, but we all made it through safely. We rode the last 30 miles along the Natchez Trace, which is a beautiful road that runs from Mississippi to Tennessee. We will be in it all day tomorrow as we cross through Alabama and into Tennessee.
We were joined today by HSI Nashville Intelligence Research Specialist Erica LaFortune. She did great!
When we arrived in Tupelo, we were treated to a visit of Elvis Presley's birthplace. We also met Lee County (Mississippi) Sheriff Jim Johnson.
Later, we went to the Tupelo Police Department for a memorial service for the late Sgt. Gale Stauffer, who was killed in the line of duty in 2013. We met with Sgt. Stauffer’s widow, sister and coworkers, including Chief Bart Aguirre.
We presented a check to the Mississippi Concerns of Police Survivors for $1,000, which made the local news. Praying for dry skies and tail winds on Friday!
We made it to Tennessee. Today we traveled more than 150 miles from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Columbia, Tennessee. It was another cold and wet day along the Natchez Trace Parkway, but we made it. One more day to go.
We did it! After beginning this journey in New Orleans, the Honor Roll made it to Nashville on Saturday. We chose Nashville to honor the late Christy Dedman, a Metro Nashville police officer who was killed in 2004 after being struck by a tractor trailer she was assisting a motorist along Interstate 40. We have developed a friendship with Christy’s mother, Vera. She has volunteered her support for many of our law enforcement memorial rides. We were joined by HSI Nashville Investigative Assistant Erica LaFortune and other members of the Nashville Law Enforcement United team. We were greeted by Nashville Mayor Megan Berry as we made our ride in to Mission BBQ. It was a great week. We traveled more than 400 miles and donated $1,000 to Concerns of Police Survivors in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. We met some great families, rode with kids, and recruited cyclists for our next ride. I’m thankful for everyone who rode with me. Thank you Lord for watching over us.
Today, I began my second adventure, the “Law Enforcement United Ruff Ride.” After hitching a ride with a friend from Nashville to Cumberland, Maryland, to rest up a bit, I joined the Law Enforcement United group to begin the journey from Cumberland to Washington, D.C. The Ruff Ride is the first memorial ride that honors our K-9 partners that have died in the line of duty.
The first leg of our ride took us from Cumberland to Hancock, Maryland, which is about a 40-mile ride. There is heavy rain that’s hitting the area, so we are going to be delayed for Day 2 to let the worst of it pass.
Today was one of the tough days. Cold, wet and rainy. We lost about half of the cyclists at lunchtime due to concerns for hyperthermia. As much as we all want to ride every mile, you have to stay healthy.
While we were cycling today Lieutenant Kevin Mainhart was killed while conducting a traffic stop in Chickalah, Arkansas. Once again a horrible reminder of why we ride.
We will meet the families of fallen officers Friday when we arrive in Washington. It is a mix of feelings. We will be happy for the safe completion of a challenging event, but sad about meeting families who lost loved ones. We hope that we are able to ride next year for fewer officers.
I hope everyone attends police week at least once in their career. It reminds us of the dangers we face every day in our chosen profession. We are a brother and sisterhood not just coworkers.
I am privileged to represent HSI in honoring the fallen.
A journey that begin on April 30, and covered six states and more than 600 miles came to a conclusion Friday when we arrived in Washington, D.C. We arrived at the World War II Memorial and joined two other Law Enforcement United groups from Reading, Pennsylvania, and Chesapeake, Virginia, that had arrived earlier. My plan is to go over to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and take part in the wreath laying ceremony and visit with the family of Special Agent J. Scott McGuire.
This has been another great experience. I’m thankful for those who rode with me and supported me these past two week. Most importantly, we must never forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.