REDDING, Calif. — Despite the ongoing, nearly year-long COVID-19 pandemic and public health crisis and other issues faced throughout 2020, Redding Police Department members challenged themselves to run in honor of the fallen officers who died in the line of duty in 2019. Both sworn and non-sworn personnel, as well as some spouses of department members, participated in the challenge.
In spite of the obstacles and challenges 2020 presented, Redding PD officials were proud to announce yesterday that their members had “persisted through”, saying that once all their miles were tallied, participants had run an incredible total of 13,599 miles.
“We had a large number of members who participated, with about fifty members contributing monthly to the total goal, said Redding Police Officer Lauren Meyer, who coordinated the agency’s participation in the 2020 Run Challenge and is a SWAT operator and member of the Never Forgotten Games committee.
“Some members chose to support the challenge by riding bikes, spinning, rowing, and other physical activities, but they all challenged themselves to be active in one form or another,” Meyer explained; adding, “Although their miles weren’t counted, their support was greatly appreciated.”
Redding PD’s Chief Bill Schueller also participated in the event, according to Meyer, who said, “He’s a great leader and showed fantastic support throughout the year’s challenge.”
About the impressive number of miles logged throughout the year-long challenge, Meyer said, “Honestly, I’m blown away.”
“2020 was a tough year for everyone. It posed a number of challenges, but RPD members stepped up and continued to run,” Meyer explained; adding, “One member, Officer Joanna Bland, ran more than 1,200 of the logged miles.”
“I think it says a lot about the caliber of people within our department,” enthused Meyer. “They’re dedicated and hard-working.”
Depending on ongoing COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, Meyer said that this year Redding PD plans on holding a number of events involving the community, including a “Donut Mile Race.”
“We want to include our community in continuing to honor our Nation’s fallen officers, and all money raised from this event will go towards charities that support families of fallen first responders,” said Meyer.
Additionally, The Redding Peace Officers Association, a non-profit organization that represents the sworn men and women of the Redding Police Department, will be holding the fourth annual Never Forgotten Games competition in the late summer.
The event will be a CrossFit-style competition, where each workout honors a different fallen first responder. “All of the money raised from this event will be used to support families of fallen first responders, as well as, local youth programs,” explained Meyer.
According to FBI statistics, 89 law enforcement officers were killed in line of duty throughout the year. Of those killed, 48 officers died as a result of felonious acts, nearly 80% of which were committed by assailants who had prior criminal arrests, while 41 additional officers were fatally injured in accidents.
Additionally, the Officer Down Memorial Page – which includes all officers who died both on and off duty as a direct result of work-related responsibilities – a total of 148 officers were listed as having passed in 2019. Sadly, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the number of fallen officers for 2020 jumped from 148 to 307, an increase of about 48% over the prior year’s reported deaths.
“2019 was a hard-hit year for law enforcement and last year was even worse,” Meyer explained; calling the number of officers killed in the line of duty over the last two years, “an astounding and very disheartening number.”
“It’s important to remember our fallen officers because they paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Meyer. “These heroes are people who were loved by family and friends, and chose to serve their communities by helping people.”
“They gave their lives in their commitment to serve. That service and sacrifice should be honored and never forgotten,” Meyer continued; adding, “Running in their memory was the least we could do to honor them.”
“I knew this was a great idea as soon as it was presented to me,” Chief Schueller said of the successful program. “It does two things. It motivates staff to stay in shape and it brings awareness to the officers that lost their lives while protecting their communities.”
“I knew we had very fit officers and staff that would participate, but I didn’t imagine the level of participation would equate to 14,000 miles, especially with Covid-19,” the Chief continued; adding, “I’m very proud of this professional group of men and women at this department and the respect and honor they are giving to those that have given all.”