Thursday September 13, 2012 | By:Felice E. Krycia-associate editor | News
Biking in honor of fallen enforcement officers
At about 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5, James Caverly, a retired FBI special agent from the Albany area, stopped in Hamburg for the night as he heads into the final leg of his cross country bicycle tour to raise awareness and funds for Concerns of Police Survivors. Pictured from left are: President of the WNY Chapter of C.O.P.S. Karen Howard, mother of the late New York State Police Trooper David Brinkerhoff; Secretary of WNY Chapter of C.O.P.S. Jeannette Shields, mother of the late Buffalo Police Officer James Shield; Jeanne Caverly and Sandy, Caverly and Richard Dobson, father of the late New York State Police Trooper Kevin Dobson.
Since May 25, retired FBI-Special Agent Jim Caverly has been steadily pedaling across the United States to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty and to raise awareness and money for Concerns of Police Survivors.
On a warm Wednesday (Sept. 5), Caverly came through the Evans and Hamburg area, stopping to spend the night at Hamburg resident Don Gleason’s home.
Caverly, who retired from the FBI in 1999 after a 27-year-career, was greeted with cheers and applause by local members of C.O.P.S. and members of various area law enforcement agencies as he pulled into Gleason’s driveway.
“This trip is really something,” Caverly said. “People all across the country have been really supportive of me and the C.O.P.S. program.”
Caverly’s goal is to raise $30,000 for C.O.P.S., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing services and hands-on programs free of charge nationwide for surviving family members and affected co-workers of line-of-duty deaths.
Since 1990, Caverly and his wife, Jeanne, have served as grief counselors at various programs sponsored by C.O.P.S., including the National Police Survivors Conference at National Police Week in Washington D.C. each May, C.O.P.S. Kids Camp, and retreats for spouses, parents, and siblings.
“People have no idea the devastation there is to family, friends and co-workers when an officer is killed while on duty,” Caverly said. “For the past 23 years we have been as grief counsellors in programs sponsored by C.O.P.S. and these types of traumatic grief is really the toughest.
C.O.P.S. was formed in 1984 with 110 members. According to Caverly, today there are nearly 35,000 members and each year approximately 150 officers are killed in the line of duty in sudden, traumatic and often violent incidents.
“This program is to help survivors rebuild their lives,” said Jeanne, “When you work with survivors, it may take years for them to begin living again.
“It really is worth it though to see someone genuinely smile again after five years of heart-rendering grief,” she said.
Jeanne, who has a degree in teaching, is her husband’s biggest supporter and shares her husband’s passion for raising public awareness for the organization.
“My job right now is to make sure that he makes it across the country,” she said.
She is doing that by following him across the country driving a large truck which is pulling a camper, their home on wheels. She meets up with him every night at a predetermined location.
“About five years ago we got rid of our home at Balston Lake (near Saratoga) area and bought a recreational vehicle. We are already living out of it, so what better use could we have come up for it,” she said.
“This October I turn 70 and I thought, if I’m going to bike across the country for C.O.P.S., this is the time to do. So on May 25th, I dipped the rear tire of my bike into the Pacific Ocean at Heceta Beach near Florence, Oregon, and started pedaling,” Caverly said.
His goal is to be in Bar Harbor, Maine in time for his birthday on Oct. 24, after traveling 42,000 miles, through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and finally Maine.
“This trip is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Doing it for C.O.P.S. and the hundreds of survivors we’ve worked with over the past 22 years, makes it even more special,” Caverly said.
The Hamburg stop at Gleason’s home was a special moment, not only for the Caverly’s but also for the people who came to see them,
Richard “Dick” Dobson presented a donation to C.O.P.S. in memory of his son, New York State Trooper Kevin P. Dobson, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while he was making a traffic stop on I-190 at Colvin Boulevard on March 26, 2011.
Another donation was presented by James Domres, the senior vice president/COO of Digits LLC and a former law enforcement member.
Also there was Jeannette Shields, secretary and former vice-president of the WNY Chapter of C.O.P.S. and mother of James Shields, a City of Buffalo Police Officer who was killed in an automobile accident while attempting to locate a robbery suspect on Oct. 30, 2002; and Karen Howard, of Springville, president of the WNY Chapter of C.O.P.S. and mother of New York State Police Trooper David Brinkerhoff, who, while taking part in a manhunt for Travis D. Trim, was accidentally shot and killed by another officer during an intense gun battle on April 25, 2007.
“What the Caverly’s are doing is so amazing,” Howard said. “Getting the word out about C.O.P.S. is so important, I can’t stress that enough.
“It has been five years since David was killed and it still feels like it was yesterday. You never get over it, but C.O.P.S. lets you know you don’t need to face it alone and that they are there for you,” she said.
C.O.P.S. also provides educational scholarships, counseling reimbursement, KIDS Summer Camp, Teens Outward Bound, retreats for spouses, adult children, parents, siblings, in-laws and go-workers, plus Traumas of Law Enforcement trainings for police agencies nationwide.
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.BicyclingAcrossAmericaForCOPS.org.
For more information or to make a donation to the local C.O.P.S. Chapter, visit www.wny.C.O.P.S.org.