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Trooper Robert G. Smith
End of Watch: Saturday, July 26, 1997

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'Ride for Rememberance' stops in Fort Pierce

Published on Thursday, December 8, 2005
in the Ft. Pierce Tribune

Law enforcement officers representing agencies throughout the state stopped at the Fort Pierce Police Department Wednesday for "A Ride For Remembrance," honoring officers killed in the line of duty during 2005. The 9th Annual Tour de Force police charity bicycle ride began Monday in North Miami Beach and will culminate in Daytona Beach Shores Friday.

The five-day ride averages approximately 50 to 55 miles each day at a moderate pace of 15 to 17 m.p.h. and will travel through 42 law enforcement jurisdictions. The tour is supported by police escorts provided by Florida Highway Patrol, Sheriff's Departments and police agencies throughout the state. The bike tour is not a race, but "an awareness ride," according to the agency. The inaugural 1997 tour was dedicated to Trooper Robert Smith, who was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver.

The tour has grown in size each year and the non-profit charity organization has raised more than $75,000 for families of fallen officers and law enforcement organizations since it began in 1997.

This year, the goal of the remembrance ride is to raise $15,000.

Last year, 500 law enforcement personnel from across the state participated with 32 riders completing the entire 270-mile ride to Daytona Beach Shores. A total of $16,000 was distributed to eight families for the 2004 tour.

Officers roll though Indian River for fallen lawmen

Published on Thursday, December 8, 2005
in the Vero Beach Press Journal

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Deputy Ron Bair said he rides his bicycle at least 40 miles every other day to stay in shape.

However, his bike ride Wednesday was for a more rewarding purpose; to raise money for families of law enforcement officers who were killed this year in the line of duty.

"This is a ride of remembrance," he said. "Really, it's a tribute to the fallen officers and a way we can help out their families. It's a really neat program they put together."

Bair, 38, joined about 20 other officers from agencies across the state Wednesday in the local leg of the ninth annual Tour de Force bicycle ride.

The 270-mile event started Monday in North Miami Beach and will conclude Friday in Daytona Beach. Each segment is an average of about 50 miles a day.

The officers, who mostly were wearing cyclist uniforms and gear, started Wednesday in Port St. Lucie, rode north on U.S. 1 through Indian River County and finished in Palm Bay.

They kept a continual pace of about 15 mph, Bair said, with the only hindrance Wednesday being the wind at their faces. Besides a few sprinkles, the weather so far has cooperated.

They were escorted by a multitude of volunteers, supporters and police cars. Uniformed officers with their vehicles' emergency lights and sirens on blocked off the outer northbound lane on U.S. 1 and approaching streets so the cyclists didn't have to wait for traffic.

"Try riding up U.S. 1 without a police escort. You will get run over," Bair said about noon Wednesday during a short break at a gas station at 17th Street and U.S. 1.

The ride started in 1997 in remembrance of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Smith, who was killed in the line of duty by a drunken driver. Since then, more than $75,000 has been raised for the families of fallen officers.

Cyclists ride through 42 law enforcement jurisdictions.

This year, the event is expected to raise more than $10,000 for the families of six officers killed this year, said Detective Mike DeMarcus of the North Miami Beach Police Department. He said the ride began small, but has grown to an annual, multi-agency event.

"With this year's hurricanes still affecting most of South Florida, we don't think we will do as well as we did last year. There are less people riding this year," he said, adding previous events had more than 50 officers cycling the whole length. "We pick up an officer or two along the way. We really have a good time with this."

Bair said he only learned of the event about week ago, but managed to obtain about $350 in sponsorships. Although Bair only could ride through Wednesday's session, he said his goal is to complete the full trip during next year's event.

"I just love to get out there and ride. It's not about going fast, its about doing it for the health aspect," he said. "This probably will become an annual event for me."

Peddling toward relief for families of fallen officers

Published on Thursday, December 8, 2005
in the Miami Herald

Dozens of police officers from around the state took off Monday for the five-day Tour de Force bicycle ride to raise funds for the families of fallen officers.

North Miami Beach police chief Linda Loizzo said the gifts go to help children left motherless or fatherless. So far this year, the tour has raised $10,000 for the families of six officers who died in the line of duty.

Money came from T-shirt sales, corporate sponsorships, a series of $10-a-plate luncheons at Outback Steakhouse, and a raffle on Monday that raised $3,000.

''As a survivor myself, the wife of a slain officer, I can tell you this means a lot to the families,'' Loizzo said. In 1980, her husband Carl Mertes was shot while chasing a car thief in North Miami, leaving her with three small children.

The tour started in 1997, with the help of North Miami Beach Det. Mike DeMarcus, to help the family of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Robert Smith, a father of 4-year-old twins who was killed on Interstate 95 in Broward when a drunk driver rear-ended his cruiser. Since then the tour has raised more than $75,000.

As the riders headed out from North Miami Beach, dignitaries read letter of appreciation from survivors and the ''honor roll'' of those who died this year in Florida. They included Fort Lauderdale patrolman José Díaz, who died in a fall Oct. 8.

One letter of appreciation came from a couple who adopted Tucker, the son of Andy Brown, a Florida Highway Patrol sergeant killed in a car accident while chasing a suspect in Columbia County last year. The family received $2,000, which they said they'll put aside for Tucker's college fund.

''He's got a lot of sadness, but we can't help but think that these acts of kindness along the way have lifted his spirits,'' the letter states.

Three officers were killed by gunfire, one by vehicular assault and one suffered a work-related illness.

Riders will pedal 54 miles a day through 42 police jurisdictions to reach Daytona Beach Shores on Friday.

To donate, call North Miami Beach police at 305-949-5500 and ask for Yvette Darden. For more information on officers killed in the line of duty, see the Officer Down Memorial Page at http://www.odmp.org/.

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