Marathon runners and spectators are used to seeing costume-clad teams at many charity runs, but one group at the Jan. 19 Humana Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona Marathon is sure to stand out, thanks to Phoenix Police Lt. Russell Frederiksen.
Frederiksen and about a dozen of his colleagues – several in full uniforms and utility belts adding an extra 15 to 20 pounds – will run to honor comrades who have been killed in the line of duty. Most of the runners are from Cactus Park Precinct, where Frederiksen is stationed and part of the marathon route goes through North Central Phoenix.
“I think it’s going to shock some people,” he said. “They’re going to think, ‘What did we just see? Are they chasing somebody?’ ”
What he hopes they’ll see–and honor–is the sacrifice that officers made, giving their lives to protect the city.
It’s a tribute that combines two of Frederiksen’s passions – athletics and his fellow Phoenix Police officers.
“I’ve been interested in sports all my life, and I like challenges,” he said.
That includes adventure races that incorporate kayaking, rappelling, running, mountain biking and the like.
The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon will be Frederiksen’s last as a Phoenix Police employee – he’s retiring in May after 30 years on the force. Four employees will be running in uniform with him and others will wear shirts that say “Honor the Fallen” on the back, with the names of fallen Phoenix police officers. They also will carry a flag with ribbons representing the fallen officers.
“Because it’s my last event as a police employee I wanted to honor those who sacrificed everything, during my career and before I came,” Frederiksen said. “We have had 39 Phoenix police officers who were killed in the line of duty. The first was Haze Burch, in 1925. Then you fast forward to earlier this year and Paul Rutherford who was killed. Of those 39, 21 have been during my 30-year career. I either knew them or they were friends of mine.
The history of every law enforcement agency unfortunately includes people who have been killed in the line of duty,” Frederiksen added. “They’ve sacrificed for something they believe in, and for people they don’t even know. The most important thing we hope people will take from it is honor and respect for police officers and what they do every day.”