sergeant rides to honor fallen officers
University police Sgt. Patrick Taylor has done his share of bike patrols on
campus, but a recent ride was the most memorable of his life.
Taylor was one of
approximately 1,500 fellow officers who participated in the annual Police Unity Tour that honors law enforcement
officers killed in the line of duty during the previous
year. From May 9 to 12, Taylor biked 250 miles from Portsmouth, Va. to Washington, D.C. as part of National Law Enforcement Week to raise awareness
about officers who died in the line of duty and to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington.
“I saw information about it last year about
this time and it said to check again in August so I applied and was selected,”
said Taylor. “I saw the slideshow about the ride they had on their website and
it was remarkable.” He was one of about
200 riders in the chapter that included officers from Arizona, North Dakota and
The ride was
challenging, both physically and emotionally, he said. “Your emotions run the
full gamut. I was excited, anxious and sad at times. We had the widows of two
officers ride with us and it was hard to hear their stories.
“You did get tired and
beat up, but sometimes we’d ride by an elementary school and all of the kids
would be out there waving their flags, saluting us and it was so great. On one
stretch there was a military caravan on the other side of the highway. They stopped,
got out and stood at attention as we went past. When we rode into D.C. the
crowd was lined up four deep near the memorial.”
The riders were
greeted at the memorial by bagpipers and approximately 20,000 supporters. Also
among the crowd were some of the families of the fallen officers. Among them
was the father of Kyle Pagerly, a Berks County deputy sheriff who was killed
and for whom Taylor was riding. He said each rider got a bracelet with the name
of a fallen officer.
According to media
reports, Pagerly, 28, was a K-9 officer who was killed in a shootout June 29,
2011 in Berks County when he was part of a fugitive task force trying to serve
a warrant. Pagerly was a U.S. Army veteran and had served with the sheriff’s
department for five years.
“I got to talk with
(Deputy Pagerly’s) father. He shared his experience and how this had helped
him. I gave him the bracelet when we were done talking. I didn’t know him (Deputy Pagerly) but Berks
County is somewhat close so riding for him brought it home for me.”
For Taylor, who’s
already waiting to apply again, the ride was “probably one of the most
rewarding things I ever did.”