IL COPS stop in Lincoln delivering
gestures of appreciation to the Lincoln Rural Fire and Eminence
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[July 24, 2019]
On Friday members of the Illinois Concerns of Police Survivors
bicycle caravan rolled into town for a lunch break at the Lincoln
Rural Fire Protection District Station. This is the fifteenth year
for the annual bike ride and the fourth year it has stopped at the
The tour had previously made stops for water and a short rest at the
Logan County Safety Complex, then rode on to Atlanta to the
firehouse there for lunch provided by Eminence Church of rural
Atlanta. In 2016 the group made a change.
Typically they had ridden a route up Route 66 to Chicago. They make
stops to honor specific fallen heroes and in 2016 the group veered
from their typical route for a stop in the Tremont area. Because of
this change, they needed to find a new location to have that
The Lincoln Rural Fire Department answered the need and since then
has become a regular stop for the group at noon time. The Eminence
Church was also happy to help by delivering food to Lincoln instead
On Friday tables were set up and a food line established in the
garage area of the station, and with the high heat index large fans
were placed around the room to keep the air moving for a more
The bikers came into town almost on time, just a little past 11:30
a.m. Riding into the station parking lot under the large LRFD
American flag, the bikers were greeted by a number of folks there to
just show support and appreciation for all police officers.
This year the group has new jerseys for on the road. At the
beginning of the meal, local police officer and IL COPS rider
Maurice (Moe) Johnson talked about the change in rider uniforms. He
noted that the blue and gray jerseys had been retired. With that, a
number of the old shirts were mounted and framed and presented to
the various people along the route from Alton to Chicago who have
shown their support for the annual ride.
Johnson first presented a shirt to LRFD Chief Chris Buse. He noted
that after that first year, Buse has been quick to speak up for
holding the lunch in the next year. He said that early in the year,
Buse will contact him and invite the group to come back, a gesture
that is greatly appreciated by the IL COPS group.
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The second shirt of the day was given to Pastor LC Sutton of
Eminence Church. It is a story that is often repeated about the
church when a few years ago the leader of the group reached out to
Sutton and asked if the church would be willing to provide
sandwiches and cold drinks to the group.
The church people, who have a reputation for honoring our countries
hero’s and also for cooking really good food, said they would be
happy to help, but no one on their watch was going to be sent down
the road with a cold sandwich. Each year the church prepares a carb-loaded
pasta dish with a cold salad, chilled fruit and plenty of cold
beverages. All of which is dished up and enjoyed with great
appreciation by the group.
This year, the weather was ridiculously hot for the riders.
According to a member of the escort team though it might not have
been as bad as some would imagine, especially on Friday. The group
added an extra water stop to their morning schedule to help out. The
volunteer noted that staying hydrated is very important for the
riders. In addition, he noted that the wind was coming in from the
south, pushing the bikers. The support group volunteer noted that in
the past he too has been a rider and said that it was much better to
ride in 100-degree heat with the wind to your back than to ride into
wind on a 70 degree day.
The group travels from Alton to Chicago in four legs. The first day
they left Alton and made their overnight stop in Springfield. On
Friday they planned to stop for the night in Normal. Saturday would
be the longest day as the group would ride close to 100 miles from
Normal to Romeoville. Then the ride would end on Sunday as the group
rode into Chicago mid-day. There they participate in a special
closing ceremony and disperse until next year.
This group of bike riders travel the route each year raising
awareness and money for their programs. The Illinois Concerns of
Police Survivors offer emotional support to families of fallen
officers, provide youth camps for survivor children and do what they
can in general to help families through a tragic time in their lives
when an officer dies in the line of duty.
The group also honors those fallen with memorial services held
during their annual rides. In 2015, the group participated in the
dedication of the Williamsville overpass to Officer Bernard Skeeters,
an Illinois State Trooper who was killed in the line of duty.
In 2017, Officer Johnson led the pack into the LRFD parking lot and
was met with a banner telling the group that Officer Johnson had
been named as the 2016-17 Officer of the year by the Lincoln Police
Department. As the group gathered for lunch, Lincoln Police Chief
Paul Adams presented Johnson with his medal and the plaque that bore
his name along with past LPD Officers of the Year.
Johnson was given the award as the result of the part he played in
assisting a young Lincoln family when the husband was having a heart
attack in the middle of the night. Johnson was first on the scene,
soon accompanied by other Lincoln PD and together they worked to do
CPR and look after the family in the traumatic time. The young
father and husband survived and was transported to the hospital
where he was treated. After recovery, the entire family came to a
Lincoln City Council meeting to publicly thank Johnson and the other
officers, Robert Sherren, Shawn Pettit and Ryan Sullivan for their
That same year, the Lincoln lunch stop served as the memorial
tribute service for Randolph County Police Officer James Brockmeyer
of the Chester PD who lost his life during a criminal pursuit.
Anyone wishing to donate to or learn more about the Illinois
Concerns of Police Survivors may visit their website
https://ilcops.org/event/cycle-across-illinois-2/ for more