A non-profit organization that is touring the country honoring police officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 stopped by the Hendersonville Police Department on July 2 to pay tribute to MPO Spencer Bristol.
The 31-year-old officer died Dec. 30 after being struck by a passing vehicle on I-65 while chasing a suspect on foot.
About a dozen members of the Washington-based non-profit group Beyond the Call of Duty were greeted by HPD officers, members of the Hendersonville Police Academy Alumni Association, and some of Bristol’s family members on Thursday. The group is participating in the first End of Watch Ride to Remember, a cross-country trek to raise awareness of the 146 police officers killed last year in the line of duty.
The group started the morning in Cheatham County where they remembered Sheriff’s Office Deputy Stephen Reece. Reece died in a car accident while on duty in November.
Hendersonville motorcycle officers escorted the group that is traveling 17,000 miles with a trailer displaying the photos of the 146 fallen officers. Hendersonville and the Cheatham County department were two of 99 departments the group will visit in 30 states between June 1 and Aug. 8.
Former Spokane, Wash., police officer Jag Rut told those who gathered why he founded the Ride to Remember 2019 earlier this year.
Rut said he’s known 12 officers during his career who died while serving their community.
“I’ve been to a lot of funerals, but there’s always this void after the funerals so I wanted to bridge that void,” he said. “I wanted to remind departments that their fallen are not forgotten. Remind families that they’re not forgotten, and that there’s a ton of love out there.”
“Our goal is to promote love and that’s what we’re doing,” Rut added.
HPD Officer Greg Freudenthal thanked Rut on behalf of the police department.
“Especially with the way the state of the nation is right now - a little love spread is always good so thank you,” said Freudenthal.
Bristol’s father Dan said his family was also appreciative of the group’s efforts.
“I think what you guys are doing is amazing,” he said. “Anytime you can honor these brave men and women… This is something that kind of sows us together. I just thank God for what you’re doing and God bless you.”
Rut admitted that with the protests - some turning violent - calling for police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death, his group had been encouraged not to go forward with the ride.
“A lot of people urged us to cancel,” he said. “Even while on the road we have had some negative reaction. “
However, the group has received a lot of encouragement as well from both the departments they visit as well as passersby.
“We have people who join us and ride along with us until the next exit or so, people who come up to use at stops along the way and thank us for what we’re doing,” he said. “Our positives have just drowned out the negatives, and that’s what we want.”