Sgt. Gary Durree has seen many colleagues die in the line of duty in his 34 years on the highway patrol, so he decided to end his career by organizing a grueling bicycle ride to raise money for families of fallen officers.
Durree and seven other state Department of Public Safety officers and a support crew left the border of Arizona and New Mexico, east of Willcox, Sunday and pedaled 71 miles to finish the first leg of a planned 360-mile ride.
Durree, who works out of Tucson and is set to retire May 31, didn't want the typical send-off of a party, so he organized the ride to raise funds for the 100 Club of Arizona, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to the survivors of fallen police officers and firefighters.
Of the 27 DPS members who died in the line of duty, Durree either worked with or was acquainted with nine of them, including a partner of his who was killed during an undercover drug investigation.
"It's just a very personal thing for me," Durree said.
The ride is in conjunction with National Police Week, which will be held through Saturday and includes National Peace Officers Memorial Day on Thursday.
President John F. Kennedy designated the day of honor in 1962.
Over the next few days, others such as retired Secret Service agents and civilians from the DPS crime lab will join Durree and his group at different points along the route for a day.
Durree said he estimates they have raised about $10,000 so far.
The ride is scheduled to finish Saturday at Yuma Crossings State Park.