HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – Saturday morning, the Proud American Riders and Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Crew held a “Back The Blue” motorcycle ride from Harrisonburg to Stanley for National Police Week.
The ride was to show appreciation to police officers, but also to honor fallen officers. Before the ride, motorcyclists and police officers spoke about the need for more police officers and to keep them safe.
“Retirement, turnover rate all-time high, and recruitment of new officers is at an all-time low,” One former police officer said in his speech.
Although this ride was to honor all police officers, there was a heavy emphasis on honoring local fallen officers. Bridgewater College Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson were honored by Painter’s daughter and Jefferson’s mother who spoke to the riders. Painter and Jefferson lost their lives in the line of duty on Feb. 1, 2022, at Bridgewater College.
“John Painter was a really good friend of the family, to my family and he was a great officer,” Billy Lilly, who helped organize the ride said.
There was a special tribute to Officer Nick Winum, who lost his life in the line of duty in Stanley in 2021. A former Marine, now welder shared his story about how Officer Winum offered a hand out to his dad multiple times.
Riders made a stop at Semper Fi Fab Shop Mobile Welding where they will be hanging a memorial made at the shop for Officer Winum before they headed back to Harrisonburg.
”It’s a way that our motorcycle club, Proud American Riders, and The Punisher Motorcycle Law Enforcement Crew can come out and show our support for all officers and first responders and military people. We all like to ride and it’s a good way to show our support,” Lilly said.
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