AUGUSTA, Maine — A national effort to support families of fallen law enforcement officers came to Augusta on Monday as part of a plan to visit every state capital in the country and raise money for a national organization along the way.
Motorcyclists gathered at the Fallen Officers Memorial on State Street for a brief ceremony before driving en masse to the Maine State Police Headquarters across town. The goal was to spur support for a group called Ride4Cops, which was founded by Harry Herington, a former police officer from Texas.
“Law enforcement who protect each community in Maine every day are heroes who deserve our support,” said Herington. “As a former police officer, I know that an officer’s biggest concern isn’t falling in the line of duty, but what will happen to his or her family if that occurs.”
Herington, chief executive officer of a Kansas City-based government contractor called NIC, Inc., said his goal is to raise enough funds to support the families of the more than 140 officers killed while on duty in the United States each year.
Ride4Cops donates 100 percent of the funds it raises to another group called Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc., which supports families and coworkers of fallen officers. The organization has assisted more than 15,000 people since 1984.
Herington’s effort was bolstered through a partnership with the Maine Information Network, which oversees technology issues for state government, along with AAA of Northern New England, Northeast Bank and the Brunswick Rotary.
Debra Noyes was living in Guilford, N.H., in October 1994 when her husband, Sgt. James Noyes, 40, was killed during a standoff. Noyes left behind his wife and three children.
“This organization has been very important to me and my children,” she said. “They came right to my door and took care of us from day one.”
Lloyd Hallett of Readfield was one of the motorcyclists involved.
“Law enforcement, they don’t get the respect they should some of the time,” said Hallett. “I’ve been on both sides of that field.”
Greg Dandy of Yarmouth, who rode a Harley-Davidson Sportster he customized himself, agreed.
“I owe the cops a lot,” he said. “I gave them a lot of [grief] in my younger years, before I got sober.”
Gov. Paul LePage’s wife, Anne, was one of the honored speakers.
“Unfortunately it takes a tragedy or a disaster to remind us of the dangers involved in being a first responder,” said LePage. “When these terrible events occur we remember to thank our officers and first responder but we must also remember the very important role that their families play.”