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Annual Valor Run honors fallen peace officers
Saturday was the perfect morning for a 5-kilometer run — cool and dry with little breeze. But the Valor Run held at America the Beautiful Park was much more than just another run in a race-happy community.
The sixth annual run was held to honor the life of Matthew R. Tyner, 42, a Colorado Springs Police Department motorcycle officer who died in a crash while on duty July 24.
And like the previous gatherings, the run — and an accompanying 3K walk — along the Pikes Peak Greenway raised money to fund construction of a Peace Officers Memorial in the park, dedicated to those who have died in the line of duty in the Pikes Peak region.
“It’s great to get out and run, but this is really about support,” said Fred Walker, a CSPD detective in the crimes against children unit. Support for the families and friends of fallen officers and support for the memorial.
Walker attended the police academy with Tyner, graduating in 1999, and has fond memories of a man who embraced life and was dedicated to helping the community. “He taught at the academy for years, so there are a lot of people here who knew him,” Walker said.
A regular runner, Walker also thinks each year of Brent A. Holloway, a Teller County sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed by a suicidal arson suspect during Walker’s first week on the force.
Even though every officer knows the risks of the job, the timing and the manner of Holloway’s death of was jolting, Walker said.
It’s something you know but can’t dwell on, said Meredith Jensen, whose husband, Jeff, is a CSPD lieutenant, and whose brother-in-law, CSPD detective Jared Jensen, was fatally shot Feb. 22, 2006, by a felon wanted on suspicion of attempted murder.
“The run helps keep the memory of these officers alive,” said Jensen. “It means a lot to the families that the community shows its support. We still meet people all the time who tell us how Jared touched their life in a positive way, how he helped them.”
The annual run also is a time for the families of fallen officers to show their support for one another. Among the tightknit law enforcement community, theirs is an even stronger bond, Jensen said. In addition to members of Jared Jensen’s family, members of Hugh Martin’s family attended the run as did Patricia and James Gray, Tyner’s mother and stepfather, who live in Kansas City.
“The loss of Matt is still fresh, but at the start line you could see (Patricia Gray) beaming. You could feel the love and support of this community,” said Skip Arms, commander in charge of the CSPD’s specialized enforcement division.
Scott Bowman, 23, of Colorado Springs, won the race, which attracted about 180 runners, crossing the finish line in 17 minutes, 50 seconds. He had a commanding lead on second-place finisher Kevin Morgan, 25, of Colorado Springs (20:36) and the third-place male runner, Miles Hatton, 14, of Colorado Springs, 21:45.
Ilea Eskildsen, 26, of Colorado Springs, was the first woman across the finish line, clocking in at 21:33. Edelina Calle, 38, of Colorado Springs, was the second woman, in 25:05, and Georgann Richardson, 57, of Colorado Springs, was third (26:09).
The start and finish lines bookended a display of photographs of the 28 peace officers in El Paso and Teller Counties who have died while serving the public since 1896.
“I think the display is really powerful,” said Arms. “The photos drive home why we’re here, the work these officers did in the community.”
Organizers estimate the memorial will cost about $1 million and Arms, who is leading the fundraising effort, said the group has raised perhaps one-third that cost.
The proposed memorial includes stone walls bearing the names of the fallen officers, a statue of a sleeping lion, and part of the poem, “I am the Officer”: “I have been where you fear to be. I have seen what you fear to see. I have done what you fear to do. All these things I have done for you.”