Cleveland Heights Officer Larry Rieck never had an interest in bicycles before his boss asked him to be one of the city’s first two bike patrolmen two years ago.
Now, he rides 20 to 25 miles a day in his personal time.
“I got this place in the bike unit and I just fell in love with biking in general,” he said.
Next month, he’ll embark on a 300-mile, four-day Police Unity Tour to honor two of his fallen comrades.
“This is the biggest honor that I could be a part of,” said Rieck. “Not only to raise the money but also to raise awareness that when these officers died, they can never be forgotten because of their sacrifice.”
The Unity Tour is the single largest supporter of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum, and has raised $12 million for the fund since it started in 1997. This year, over 1,600 officers will ride.
Ten riders will go from Cleveland, including an officer from Mentor and the wife of a Twinsburg officer who died in the line of duty.
The ride starts in New Jersey and ends at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum.
Rieck is riding for Tom Patton and Jason West, two Cleveland Heights officers who died in the line of duty.
Rieck was very close to Patton, he said. He never met West, who was shot as he was getting out of his patrol vehicle at the scene of a fight on Altamont Road.
This is the first year officers from Cleveland Heights Police have ridden on the Unity Tour, which is May 9 to 13.
“I’m very pleased and very happy about the support that my department especially has helped me with,” said Rieck, who surpassed his fundraising goal of $1,750.
He’s raised $2,350 so far, and that number is still growing as more people donate to his campaign or buy t-shirts or magnets honoring the fallen officers.
“All the credit goes to my department, my chief and Sgt. Ernest Williams,” said Rieck. “They’ve been very supportive in allowing me to do this in recognition of Tom’s and Jason’s memory.”
To donate, visit Rieck’s fundraising page or contact the Cleveland Heights Police Department at (216) 321-1234.