Ride honors officer killed in line of duty

ROCKWELL CITY – Law enforcement officers from across the nation came together Monday to bike across north central Iowa in memory of Officer Jamie Buenting.

The bike ride, which was put on by a group known as Tour de Force, saw more than 30 officers travel from Webster City to Rockwell City as a way of honoring Buenting, a Rockwell City police officer who was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 13, 2013.

Laura Judge, a member of Tour de Force and one of the organizers of Monday’s bike ride, said the group regularly hosts bike rides to honor fallen officers, but this was the first time they had come to Iowa.

“We’re able to raise funds for families of fallen officers,” Judge said. “We wanted to take time to pay tribute to Officer Buenting.”

Although the skies were cloudy all day Monday, Judge said that didn’t deter anybody from proceeding with the bike ride.

“We ride regardless of the weather,” she said. “Our purpose is bigger than the weather.”

Iowa State Patrol Lt. Kelly Hindman, who rode the entire route, said Buenting was helping them along the way.

“Jamie was nice enough to send that tailwind,” Hindman said. “It’s done very well helping us to the halfway point. The temperature’s cold, but you don’t feel it on that bike.”

Fort Dodge Police Sgt. Matt Lundberg, who also biked Monday, agreed that the wind was helpful.

“It was nice to get out with everybody,” he said. “It was good to be a part of it.”

Officers who didn’t ride their bikes found other ways of helping out during the bike ride.

Sgt. Jayson Heesch, of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, helped clear traffic so the officers could ride safely down the road.

“I’m impressed with the amount of people that have come out to support and honor Jamie,” Heesch said.

The wives of the officers on the regional Special Emergency Response Team also lent a hand during the bike ride by providing refreshments during a stop in Duncombe. When the riders stopped for lunch at the Fort Dodge Public Library, a crowd of people gathered and cheered for them as they rode into town.

In addition to local law enforcement agencies, officers from East Moline, Ill.; Aurora, Colo.; and Sioux Falls, S.D.; also took part in the bike ride.

At the final stop in Rockwell City, Tour de Force members presented Mandy Buenting, Jamie Buenting’s wife, with a check, which represented all the money raised by the group.

Mandy Buenting said she was “very humbled and very honored” by Monday’s events.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

The bike ride showed everybody how much law enforcement from multiple agencies care about their fellow officers, “not only by putting their lives at risk, but also by how much they support me and the kids.”

Mandy Buenting also said she appreciated everything the community, the SERT wives and all the law enforcement agencies had done for her and her family.

Speaking at the check presentation ceremony, Hindman told Mandy Buenting that law enforcement will always support her family.

“We promised you on Sept. 13 that we would never forget,” he said. “We are always here for you.”