AMESBURY — As a 13-year veteran of the Amesbury Police Departmen, officer Jason Kooken knows the reality of his job, and so does his family.
“Our families know the sacrifices that it takes to be involved in this career,” Kooken said. “They are a part of this. They support us whether it is going to work everyday, getting our degrees, whatever we do, they are there with us.
“When I do this ride, the way I promote it is, if something was to ever happen to me, an officer in Amesbury, Merrimac, Haverhill, anywhere, would step up for my family.”
Supporting those who have lost a loved one in the line of duty is the reason Kooken has ridden the Law Enforcement United 1000 Miles of Honor three times.
An annual 12-day bicycle trek to the Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington, D.C., the 1000 Miles of Honor pays tribute to those lost and supports those who have been left behind. Over 19,000 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty since 1791.
“It’s not a family that people rush to join,” Kooken said. “But when they are there, it is important that they stick together. Being able to provide funding and awareness and support to the families of police survivors, it means the world to me.”
Any active or retired law enforcement officer and immediate family members of fallen officers can ride.
A member of Law Enforcement United as well as a 22-year veteran of the Coast Guard, Kooken is an avid cyclist himself and started doing the 1000 Miles of Honor in 2008. In 2010, Kooken rode in honor of Lawrence police officer Tom Duggan, who was killed in 1990, eventually meeting with Duggan’s family in D.C.
“I have had the honor to ride this ride in honor of officers from Mississippi, Texas, Wisconsin, California and Massachusetts,” Kooken said. “I have become a member of some of the families whose officer I have ridden for. I have stayed in touch and it is pretty amazing that connection that is there.