Monday, January 30, 2012

A Thank You

Thank you to everyone that came out and made the Police Unity Tour Fundraiser a fun, successful night (and also to you that donated online). We managed to raise a total of $726.00, which isn't too shabby for a few hours worth of work. Also, a big thank you to Georgetown Cupcake for donating 2 dozen of their delicious cupcakes for our raffle. There were two lucky participants who went home happy. Also congrats to the other raffle winners! (We also raffled off some wine, some messenger bags and a few water bottles).

The first fundraising deadline has been met, thanks to you. In order to stay on the roster of riders, we had to have raised $500 by tomorrow (January 31st). I've surpassed that, so thank you!

(Also, just as an interesting aside: There are 88 riders on the roster for Chapter 4. If all 88 riders meet their fundraising MINIMUM by the ride, Chapter 4 will have raised $150,000 for the Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. And that's just ONE chapter of the Tour. Your donating DOES make a difference).

I saw many familiar faces, and manged to put real faces to online names, so that's always a good thing. Quite a few of the twitterati & #DCbike people were there, as well as a swarm of fellow police. It's always interesting to see how the two groups attempt to mingle. If I hadn't been so distracted with greeting everyone, I would have remembered to take photos. Oh well,  next time!

This is only our first of many activities to come, so we're still working out the kinks a bit. If you showed up early, you would have noticed that I was stuck by myself for a bit, so I couldn't get up and socialize too much. This is because the other rider doing this adventure with me (Mir), was told at the last minute that she was receiving an award (I'm pretty sure it was for "Super Cop of the Year" or something like that) so she had to go and pretend to be modest and pick up her award. HA! Anyway, I hope no one felt ignored or neglected. I think everyone had a good time. Once Mir showed up, things went a bit more tipsy smoothly.

We're getting ready to plan our next event (most like it will be a "Coffee & Donuts" ride of some sort, $5 a person donation to ride). We're also getting together some donation incentives. We'll hold an online donation drive in which the person that donates the most amount of money in a certain amount of time will win a prize of some sort.

I wish I could update you on our training, but my bike is still being pieced together so we haven't been able to get out for any good rides yet. Soon, hopefully. I know the parts have been ordered; its just a matter of time of waiting for the bike shop to put them all together. I'm itching to get back on the road. I still ride Betty around town, but she's not really meant for any sort of training rides; and the Jamis is still out of commission from that bike parking incident. I'll be honest-the cold weather isn't helping my motivation at all. Even though we've had a spectacularly mild winter (this time last year, we were still digging ourselves out of snowcommuteageddon), I'm still not a fan of the cold. Last year, the Winter Weather Warrior contest from Capital Bikeshare was pretty much the only thing that got me on a bike voluntarily last January & February. I say this knowing full well that I'd rather take the coldest January day rather than the hottest, stickiest August day in DC. I'm just being spoiled, that's all.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Hour Fundraiser! Win prizes! Buy stuff! Drink beer!

I hope you enjoyed the guest post from Liz. Hopefully we can read more guest posts in the future.

I wanted to make you guys aware of a Happy Hour Fundraiser that Duffy's Irish Pub is hosting on our behalf next Wednesday, January 25th from 7pm to 12am.

Purchasing a $10 wristband at the door will get you:

-1 free entry into our raffle ($1 per ticket if you want more)

$10 pitchers of National Bohemian and Miller Lite. 
$14 pitchers of Sam Adams an Sam Adams Seasonal
$4 16oz drafts of Sam Adams, Sam Adams Seasonal
$3 16oz drafts of National Bohemian and Miller lite
$16 buckets of Yuengling bottles, 16oz Schlitz, 16oz PBR, 16oz High Life, 16oz Coors Light. 

$5 Shots of Jameson


1/2 off wings until 10pm (the beer specials are good until 12am)

Also, we will be selling Police Unity Tour water bottles ($10) & buttons ($3). I've only ordered 10 water bottles because I wasn't sure how they were going to turn out: they turned out awesome! But there's only 10, so if you want one-get there early. Also, please bring cash. We won't be able to accept credit cards at this time (a check might be ok).

The profit from the sale of the wristbands & other merchandise goes to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, via the the Police Unity Tour.

There will also be some cool prizes for the raffle (you'll have to show up to find out what they are! ;-) )

For those that can't make it, but still wish to donate--you can make an online donation through the FirstGiving widget to the right----->.

I really hope that you can make it out. It will be nice to put faces to the names I see online.

As far as training has been going so's off to a slow start. My bike has been ordered and is on its way. In the meantime, I've been bringing Betty out for a few rides on the weekends, since she was getting cranky at being neglected. Last weekend we hit up the Capital Crescent Trail and explored a bit of Bethesda. 

A cold & sunny afternoon

Betty loves the C&O.

The best part was the ride home, because it was after dark. Riding the CCT in the darkness was spooky & exhilarating. Good thing we had lights!

I fear that I'm going to fall short of my 100 mile goal for the month...but I've still got time. We'll see.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Guest Post: Biking in Washington DC in 2012

Thanks for the fundraising suggestions! I'm pretty excited for what I have planned in the next few months, and I can't wait to share with you all. As always, don't forget you can donate directly by using the FirstGiving widget found on the right side panel of this blog.

Taking a break from fundraising stuff, here's a guest article about biking in DC by a pretty cool young lady. Good stuff. NOTE: I updated this post, since the links in the article were accidentally left out the first time I posted it. Be sure to check them out, especially the Mt. Vernon & W&O trail links--they are some of my favorite trails!

Biking in Washington DC in 2012
If you own a bicycle, and you live in Washington DC, you have a wealth of opportunities to explore history, run errands, and enjoy some quality exercise time. If you live in the capitol of the US you are one of the lucky people who can guide your bike out of your garage, and head downtown to visit your favorite DC dentist. If you have a container holder on your bike, on the way back from the dentist you can stop by your family grocery store and pick up some staples to take home.

On the many beautiful days DC has to offer you might want to save your feet from the long walks, ride your bike, and visit some of the amazing places to be found here. One of the most spectacular places you can ride to is the Washington Monument, the White House, and most of the "must sees" in the area, including the many museums and places of interest.

If you have the opportunity, along with proper lighting on your bicycle, a night tour of Washington DC is well worth the planning. You will be able to see the Washington Memorial as well as the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial flooded with lights making each one a little more special than you see it during the day.

If you are an avid bicyclist you will be pleasantly surprised with the many bike trails available. For example, the Mount Vernon Trail is an 18 mile scenic trail. It runs along the Potomac River and the destination is George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon. If you prefer a longer ride you might enjoy the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. This 45 mile paved trail spans from Shirlington and Purcellville, VA.

Riders can also choose a route to travel ranging from an all terrain area to asphalt only. The routes allow you to include optional stops. One of these is named 'The Zoo Review." This bike route has unpaved sections and it goes from Georgetown to Bethesda and allows for a stop at the National Zoo. One of the best routes to travel in the DC area is the Washington/Cumberland area named the "C&O Towpath." It is considered to be one of the best off-road bike trails in the U.S.

Visitors are sometimes surprised with the number of people they see riding their bikes to work. This is a great way of commuting. It allows you to get your daily exercise while also saving money on gasoline and doing your part to help keep the air clean. There is no doubt that Washington DC offers a wealth of opportunity for bike riders. You might choose to ride your bike for your annual checkup or take one of the long route rides. The area truly offers something for everyone.

Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in beauty and fashion. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives by spreading positive messages. Liz also likes shopping, hanging out with friends, reading and playing with her dog, April.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Police Unity Tour

Happy New Year! I think I forgot to say that before. I was pretty sick the week of New Years, so mine was a very quiet & sniffly one. It's only in the last day or two that I finally feel fully recovered. I'm not sick very often, but when I am, it always takes a major toll.

Also, thank you so much for all the tweets, emails & comments you've sent regarding the assault case. I really appreciate the support so many of you have shown. Now that it is finally behind me, I can move on to bigger & better things.

If you follow me on twitter (and if you don't, I don't blame you. I can be a bit of a chatterbox) you may have seen me tweeting about the Police Unity Tour. I'm going to apologize ahead of time because this Tour is probably going to take up a big chunk of this blog & my twitter account from now until May. It's my big "goal" for 2012. The first half of 2012, anyway.

What is the Police Unity Tour? In a nutshell:

The Police Unity Tour (Chapter 4) is a 3 day ride covering roughly 230 miles, from Richmond, VA to Washington DC. There are actually several chapters of the Police Unity Tour with various routes & mileage, depending on where they start from. They all converge in DC and ride together to the Candlelight Vigil during Police Week, where the donations that were raised are presented. The funds go to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.

This is a particularly important ride for me, as I have more than a few friends with their names etched on that Memorial.

Do you remember Jim? The officer & friend I told you about back in the summer that died of hyponatremia during training? I'd like to share with you another excerpt from his blog--one that has always stayed with me:

I had one person ask, so let me extend this to everyone. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is on my beat (and I make sure its safe and skateboarder free) so if anyone wants a rubbing and can't make it down here let me know and I can get it for you. 

The following year, Jim's name was added to the Memorial. I know he still watches over it and keeps it safe and skateboarder free :-)

None of us know when it will be our time. We each wake up in the morning expecting to live through the day, but it doesn't always happen. Some of us are called to give our lives so that others might live. This is what sacrifice means.

The motto of the Police Unity Tour is "We Ride for Those That Died". It's a way to honor & remember those sacrifices, and to show our gratitude.

Besides training for the 3 day ride (which I will be blogging about), I also need to raise money for the Memorial. There is a minimum goal of $1700 by the ride, and $500 by the January 31st. I'm hoping to CRUSH that, and I need your help to do it.

  • If you look to the right---->, on the side panel, there is a Firstgiving Fundraising Widget. This is probably the easiest & quickest way to donate.
  • I will be holding a series of fundraising events from now until May. These will include:
    • A Fundraiser Happy Hour at Duffy's Irish Pub. The date is currently set for Wednesday, the 25th from 7pm to 12am. Purchasing a $10 wristband at the door will give you access to some pretty awesome specials that "regular folks" can't have.  I will let you know what they are as soon as I find out. This will be an awesome way to meet up with other cyclists & bloggers in the area, as well as enjoy some excellent food & drink and donate to a worthy cause.
    • Police Unity Tour STUFF you can buy: water bottles, t-shirts, maybe even some buttons. Heck, I might throw in some bike levers. I don't know. I will announce as soon as I do.
    • A Charity Bike Wash. This will probably happen closer to spring time, since its a little chilly out right now.
    • Group rides. I have two in mind: a law enforcement "tour" ride around the city, where we will stop by the memorial, museum, crime & punishment museum & the 7 police districts; and a Formal Wear Ride where everyone dresses to the nines.
If you have any other ideas for fundraising, please share! I'm a newbie at this.

Also, if you are a local business (bike shops, I'm looking at you) and think you might be interested in being a sponsor, PLEASE send me an email. I've got tons of info on what sponsorship means for your business. There are a few perks! Including tickets to this fancy-pants gala:

Super-fancy, guys. I think I might attend (and then wear the gown on the Formal Ride). I was looking at the menu, and I'm pretty sure I had no idea what 2 out of the 3 course meals were, that's how freaking fancy this Gala/Masquerade Ball will be. You know you want to go, right? If you do, hit me up. You don't have to be a sponsor to attend, you can go just for kicks & because if you are going to give to charity, you are going to be fancy about it.

As for the actual training, I plan to share that with you guys as well. I'm doing this ride with a coworker of mine, Mir, and we'll be doing some long rides together. I've ordered a new bike (since Betty definitely won't be able to handle this ride!) and can't wait to get my hands on it. 

Once it arrives, we'll start training in earnest. We'll probably be doing rides on either Sunday or Thursday mornings, and anyone is welcome to join. I'll tweet & post ahead of time in case any lovely readers would like to ride along with us. 

So, that's that. Prepare for similar blogs in the future. If you have any suggestions, please share! And as I said, if you are a business and would like to be a sponsor, get in contact with me! (An email link is at the top right).

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's over. The end of the saga.

This morning Judge Beck of DC Superior Court announced her sentencing decision in regards to the assault case that occurred last February.

As you can see, this case dragged on a bit and I've been pretty quiet about it since I posted my story. There were a few reasons for this.

-In the beginning, Mr. Harrison refused any sort of plea agreement. At the time he was facing 2 charges of assault with a dangerous weapon (vehicle), felony fleeing from law enforcement, and misdemeanor assault on a police officer. He wanted to take it to trial. No problem.

-While still being held in jail on these charges, Mr. Harrison made a phone call to a female that revealed he had a firearm in his residence. A no-no since Mr. Harrison was also on probation for prior drug charges. A search warrant was executed and the firearm was recovered. Mr. Harrison was then charged for felony possession of a firearm.

-Given this new charge, a plea agreement apparently sounded more agreeable. The ADW charges were dropped, and Mr. Harrison pled guilty to the fleeing, APO & possession of a firearm. A sentencing date was set.

-Before any sentencing, a meeting is held with the defendant to ensure they understand completely what it is they are pleading guilty to, and that there aren't any issues. Apparently there was an issue. I showed up to the hearing ready to give my victim impact statement (so did WABA!) The attorneys & judge discussed the possible sentencing options. Some of the charges carried mandatory minimums that probably seemed a bit hefty to Mr. Harrison. So he balked. Another date was set to give Mr. Harrison & his attorney time to discuss things. I soon learned that Mr. Harrison's attorney had filed a motion to disavow his plea.

This meant that ANYTHING & EVERYTHING I posted, commented, tweeted or spoke about could become potential testimony & evidence should the case go to trial after all. This also included anything that YOU GUYS might have commented, tweeted, etc. Was it a big deal? No. There's nothing on here or elsewhere that I wouldn't testify to in person. But it would have become a pain in the derriere. So, mum became the word.

To be honest, I was not looking forward to a trial. They are tedious & emotionally exhausting. I also had a feeling that it was going to turn nasty. When a case can't be won on facts (and he couldn't win), they will try to destroy the victim's and/or witness's credibility or integrity. It's not unheard of to have private investigators check up on victims and look for any "dirt" they can leverage.

This is why a very cryptic email I received while waiting to hear if the plea would be taken back started my paranoia ball rolling. It was just a few sentences, but this person claimed to know Mr. Harrison and to have information on what had occurred just before Mr. Harrison used his car to bully a girl on a bike. I had no idea what this person was alluding to, and I still don't. But it was enough to make me wonder why Mr. Harrison was so eager to go to trial.

Thankfully, I never had to find out. The judge denied the motion to disavow the plea, and a final sentencing date was set.

I showed up to the hearing with a prepared statement. Before I was able to read it, however, the defense attorney had announced that Mr. Harrison had written a letter about the case to the Judge. Judge Beck read it silently, and after a few moments asked that I read it as well since it contained allegations about me that I should be aware he was making.

It was multiple-page, handwritten letter. What it contained was a rambling discourse proving that Mr. Harrison had learned absolutely NOTHING about remorse or consequences for the last 11 months he's been sitting in jail.

In essence, the first part of the letter spoke about how he had learned his lesson from the last time he went to jail (did I mention he has an extensive criminal history?) and that he never wanted to go back to prison, that he already lost 5 years of his life and he's done everything he could to make sure he never goes back to that life & that he was doing really well on probation...wah wah wah. This part was laughable because its perfectly obvious to me that Mr. Harrison had not learned a single thing. The night of his arrest, one of his passengers had an active arrest warrant AND his vehicle absolutely reeked of marijuana (he's on probation for drug charges).

It was the second part of his letter that infuriated me. Long story short, he accused me of being a drunken lunatic on a rampage that night back in February. He stated that he never hit me, and even if he had, it was a simple accident and that this should all have been dealt with in traffic court, not criminal court. Oh, and he fled (IN A CAR) because he was in fear for his safety because I was in a rage (ON A BICYCLE). And when I showed up to the scene after he was stopped, other officers had to "hold me back" because I "charged at him".

Seriously? Obviously he has a very different recollection of that night than I have (not to mention my supervisors & other officers have).

1. I was not intoxicated or under the influence of any intoxicating substances. I was LITERALLY on my way home from work when the incident occurred. I left work not even 10 minutes before he assaulted me. It was so soon after work, that officers that work MY SHIFT showed up as my backup because they hadn't left yet. My own boss showed up.

2. I was not in "a rage" or "rampage". In fact, I was a lot calmer than I would have been had I been on-duty, simply because I know how much more vulnerable I am off-duty. I do not take off-duty actions lightly. It's dangerous and I don't want to escalate a situation more than necessary, if at all. The only time I raised my voice was when he sped in my direction trying to flee, and I ordered him to stop.

3. Mr. Harrison accused me of making a "vulgar gesture" at him the first time he bumped into me. Actually what I did was look back at him and shrug in a "WTF are you doing?!" manner. However, even if I had made a vulgar gesture, I'm pretty sure I was warranted.

4. I certainly did not "charge" at Mr. Harrison when I arrived at the scene where he was stopped. Nor did I say anything to him. By the time I arrived, all of the occupants were out of the vehicle and I believe Mr. Harrison was in the middle of a field sobriety test. I showed up to I.D. the car & the driver and that was that. In fact, I made it a point NOT to speak to OR overhear any statements they made to the officers. I did not want to taint my own statement.

Basically, Mr. Harrison blamed ME for the whole mess and he was just a poor victim of cop rage. Nice, right? *sigh* You can see how a trial would have gone.

Anyway, I assured Judge Beck that I was not intoxicated AT ALL, and that I refused to address any other allegations since I WAS NOT ON TRIAL AND IM NOT THE DEFENDANT. Then I went on with my statement:

My name is Kathleen (REDACTED) and I am police officer with the 3rd District, Metropolitan Police Department. I have been a law enforcement officer for 6 years.

However, I'm not just a police officer, although it was very fortunate that I was that night back in February; I am also a cyclist. 

That evening I was just trying to go home. It's only a mile & a half from my workplace. I don't ride dangerously or aggressively, I follow the rules of the road & I try to be respectful of other road-users. As a bike patrol officer, I am keenly aware of how important it is to ride carefully & safely.

Unfortunately, there are times I encounter hostile aggressive behavior from motorists that ranges from the harmless, yet intimidating (such as aggressive honking or verbal abuse) to literally being pushed around by a vehicle, which is exactly what happened to me that evening.

This wasn't an accident. This wasn't a momentary distraction that led to a collision. This was a conscious decision made by an individual to use their much larger vehicle as a means of bullying a more vulnerable person; a decision made more than likely because they believed that could get away with it. 

To Mr. Harrison, I was simply another girl riding a bicycle. I was harmless. What could I possibly do to him? To him, it was a fun game, as I could tell by the laughter coming from his friends as his vehicle struck me from behind while stopped at the light. I was an easy target.

It was his bad luck that it turned out that not only was I a police officer; but Mr. Harrison had chosen to  do this in MY district.

When Mr. Harrison struck me the first time, I contemplated letting it go. I was off-duty, I was alone & I didn't want to get hurt.

When Mr. Harrison struck me the second time, I couldn't help wonder what would happen if this were to occur to some other woman out there. If he was being this brazen about striking a cyclist with his car, I was quite sure he wasn't going to stop.  I couldn't let it go. Because a person that would willfully hit another human being with their car “because its funny”, is somebody I don't want on the street. Certainly not in my neighborhood.

When Mr. Harrison chose to run after being confronted, it only confirmed that he knew that what he was doing was wrong.

It was very fortunate that I was not injured. The way that Mr. Harrison recklessly drove his vehicle in an attempt to escape made it a miracle I wasn't seriously hurt, or that he hadn't hurt anyone else. Not to mention that I was lucky I wasn't knocked off my bicycle in the initial assaults.

I don't take off-duty police actions lightly. Its a serious decision that can have serious consequences. However, in this case, I was left with no choice.

Mr. Harrison is sitting here today because of decisions that he made. And those decisions need consequences. The biggest problem that I see with Mr. Harrison is that he doesn't understand that his actions were not only reckless & dangerous, but they are indeed criminal

Again, I was lucky that I'm a police officer and I have the training and resources to take action. If I hadn't had a badge with me, I have no doubt that Mr. Harrison would not only have ignored me, but my confronting him probably would have endangered my safety even further. I need to know that this city considers this type of behavior serious & criminal, and I hope that it will be reflected in his sentence.

Thank you for your time & consideration.  

Once I was done giving my statement, Judge Beck announced that she really wanted to take some time to consider her options carefully. I think both my and Mr. Harrison's letter gave her pause to think. She had a pretty full calendar that day, so we all agreed to come back on another date (today) to hear the final decision.

In the end: Mr. Harrison was sentenced to 36 months for the felony fleeing, 36 months for felony possession of a firearm and 180 days for the assault on a police officer, to be served concurrently. So basically, 3 years (minus the year he's already served while sitting in jail since being arrested). I am happy with this. It's the high end of the spectrum for each of the charges, and even though its concurrent, not consecutive, I feel its enough.

My hope is that maybe Mr. Harrison will learn his lesson this time. Maybe.

And maybe others out there might think twice before doing something dangerous to another human being and think they could get away with it. I am very sure Mr. Harrison had no idea what the consequences would be for doing something he probably thought was no big deal. That night, I was just another girl on a bicycle. Today, he's just another criminal in jail.

I want to especially thank Trevor McFadden, the AUSA that handled my case. He's been nothing but professional and supportive throughout this whole ordeal and worked very hard for a successful outcome.

And thank you to everyone that emailed, tweeted, & voiced your support. You guys rock.