Riding for Those Who Died

Posted May 12, 2017 in Police by Andrea Litchfield

Riding for Those Who Died: HPD Deputy Chief among those bicycling in Police Unity Tour

Eric Grile can admit his plan to ride nearly 300 miles on a bicycle over the coming days may surprise some who know his habits. “I’m more of a cake enthusiast than a fitness enthusiast,” joked Grile, the Deputy Chief of the Hilliard Division of Police. But it’s the symbolism behind the ride that will push him through the hills and valleys of Virginia to the finish line in Washington D.C. over the course of three days. Grile is among thousands of law enforcement members and families of fallen officers who will participate in the 2017 Police Unity Tour this week, which is National Police Week. “We ride for those who died,” is the motto of the event, which takes place Wednesday, May 10, through Friday, May 12.

What started with 18 riders on a four-day fundraising bicycle ride from Florham Park, New Jersey to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. has grown into nine chapters consisting of more than 2,200 members nationwide who make the trip annually. Grile’s team rides in the Chapter 4 tour. This past May, the organization announced it donated $2.5 million to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, bringing the organization’s total donations to more than $20 million. The riders will begin their ride in Richmond, Virginia on Wednesday morning and make the 98-mile journey to Charlottesville, Virginia by evening. Thursday’s ride, which climbs a whopping 3,700 feet, ends 76 miles away in Warrenton, Virginia, with riders completing the ride in the nation’s capital on Friday in time to attend a Candlelight Ceremony on Saturday.

The National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day Ceremony will take place on Monday at the U.S. Capitol Building, where a wreath laying ceremony will also be held. It’s the third year Grile has participated in the event, which not only raises awareness for those who have been killed in the line of duty, but money for the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. Grile started riding when he worked as a Captain with the Beavercreek Police Department. Several of the officers in the department had created Team 822 and were riding for Sgt. Brian Dulle of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, who was killed following a chase in 2011.

This year, the team of four riders will change its name to Team 822/637 to give recognition to both Dulle and Officer Sean Johnson of the Hilliard Division of Police, who was killed last year following a motorcycle training accident. Grile has placed photos of the fallen officers near his bicycle handlebars for motivation, which is needed especially on the second day of the ride. “Day two afternoon just sucks,” Grile said. “The terrain is hilly. That’s when you hear officers shout out, ‘Who are you riding for?’ It’s all about the camaraderie.” The team has raised $9,000 for the event, thanks to corporate sponsors from the Fraternal Order of Police, Walmart, the Greene County Bar Association, and others. “It’s not hard to raise the money because it’s such a worthy cause,” Grile said. The Deputy Chief admits he doesn’t spend much time training, but says he isn’t worried. He’s learned “it’s a mental thing,” he said. “The first year I rode, I was running on adrenaline. The second year it was determination — it rained hard,” he said. “This year, I’m ready to go just enjoy it.”