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Memorial bike ride gets personal for Copley chief

3/20/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Local group’s fundraising goal is $5,000

Copley Police used this banner on the trailer they used to transport equipment to the Law Enforcement United ride last year.
Copley Police Chief Michael Mier, at left, and Officer Jack Simone are shown above as they made their way into Maryland during the Law Enforcement United bike ride last year.
Photo courtesy of Michael Mier
COPLEY — Last year, when Copley Police Chief Michael Mier participated in his first Law Enforcement United bike ride, he was matched with a New Mexico sheriff’s deputy as his roommate on two evening stopovers.

“He was an interesting guy,” said Mier about Detective Robert Baron, of the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office. “He was with a sheriff’s office in New Mexico, where they deal a lot with Indian reservations, so we shared stories on how their policing is very different. He could talk to anyone.”

After the ride this past May, Baron was promoted to sergeant, Mier said. He was on the scene of a traffic accident investigation in December during a major ice storm that hit New Mexico and was struck by a vehicle. He died the next day at age 47, leaving behind a wife and 10-year-old son.

“My understanding is he participated in the Law Enforcement United ride for several years,” Mier said. “Now his name is going on the national memorial.”

Law Enforcement United’s mission is to honor the service and sacrifice of all law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty and support their survivors. One way the organization raises funds for that is through the Road to Hope bike ride in which law enforcement officers and surviving family members choose one of two routes to Washington, D.C., to participate in activities for National Police Week. Officers who died in the line of duty, like Baron, are honored during activities that week.

For the second year, Mier and Copley Sgt. Jack Simone will ride in the approximately 250-mile ride over three days. Officer Jeff Newman, who biked last year, will serve as a motorcycle escort, Mier said.

Joining them is Copley resident the Rev. Robert Denton, one of the founders and former director of the Victim Assistance Program, who Mier said will serve in a support capacity on the ride. Denton is also a longtime reserve officer for the Akron Police Department (APD), Mier said.

The chief added he plans to ride in memory of APD officer Harold Wintrow and Simone will ride to honor the APD’s Russ Long. Both were injured in the line of duty and died later as a result of their injuries, Mier said. The names of both will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial this year.

Mier said he first heard about the bike ride two years ago when he was in Washington with Officer Ben Campbell when Campbell received the Top Cop award for his work in stopping the suspect in the mass shooting that took place in Copley in August 2011.

Mier said he has been working out all winter with activities such as spinning to prepare for the ride. Once the weather improves, he plans to hit the road for long outdoor bike rides.

The Copley contingent will leave May 9 for Reading, Pa., and start the route there May 10. Riding about 70 miles a day, the participants will arrive in Washington May 12, meeting up with riders who started the other leg of the ride in Chesapeake, Va.

The Ride to Hope supports two initiatives, Mier said. The first is the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) group, which provides resources to assist in rebuilding the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of officers killed in the line of duty, according to its website.

The other entity that benefits is the Officer Down Memorial Page, at www.odmp.org, an online memorial that pays tribute to officers that died in the line of duty.

Mier said last year the Copley group exceeded its goal and raised about $10,000. The goal this year is to raise at least $5,000, he said, and the deadline for donations is April 1.

Checks to support the Copley officers may be made out to the Copley Police Association or Law Enforcement United and brought or mailed to the Copley Police Department, 1280 Sunset Drive, Copley, OH 44321. All donations are tax deductible. For details, contact Mier at 330-666-4260 or at mmier@copley.oh.us.

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