Porter County Sheriff's Department

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Concerns of Police Survivors

'Healing process'

June 28, 2007

By Elizabeth Dilts Post-Tribune staff writer

For the last six years, the 1,100-mile route police officers ride for Concerns of Police Survivors has been long, hot and exhausting.  But when the 12 cyclists rode into Porter County on Wednesday, Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain said this year was spiritual.  "We lost two of our key components last year," said Monica Zahasky, rider and senior patrol officer for Bloomington Police Department.  During the COPS ride last year, former Lake County Police Chief Gary Martin and Indiana State Police Lt. Gary Dudley were killed when their supply truck was knocked into their path.  "Every year, we ride for our fallen heroes," Zahasky said. "This year's a healing process."  Sgt. Tim Finnerty of Merrillville police said he rides for every officer killed in the line of duty. Still, he's spent a lot of riding time this year remembering his former boss Martin.  Spencer Moore, a retired Indianapolis police officer, broke his back and hand in that crash last year.  It took eight months for the swelling in his brain to reduce enough for him to start training for this year's bicycle ride.  "But this isn't about me or the rest of us (riders)," Moore said. "We ride so that that family knows that we will never forget their hero. Period." The COPS program pays for families' counseling, camps and group therapy for families.  Sue Sobkowski waited to thank the riders who were wearing buttons with her brother's picture, fallen officer Rob Hardesty.  When Hardesty died in a training session two years ago, he left a wife and two little girls.  "Those girls are now 12 and 9 and they have gone to the COPS survivor camps," Sobkowski said. "COPS is with survivors all the way through."  Today, the riders leave Merrillville for Kentland then will travel to Terre Haute and finish their ride back in Indianapolis.

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