‘We ride for those who died’: Police Unity Tour kicking off Monday

‘We ride for those who died’: Police Unity Tour kicking off Monday
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 10:53 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A renowned bicycle ride to honor fallen members of law enforcement is kicking off on Monday in Tallahassee.

The Police Unity Tour will span 350 miles over four days and end at the American Police Hall of Fame in Titusville.

Roughly 200 regional riders will make the trek. While that’s fewer participants than normal due to COVID-19, organizers said the message is even more important due to the pandemic.

WCTV’s Katie Kaplan spoke with the President of the local chapter of the Police Unity Tour, Griggs Wall, Friday night.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in-the-line-of-duty deaths rose by 96 percent in 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. That steep increase is largely attributed to COVID-19.

The Unity Tour, which was established in 1997, was cancelled last year because of the virus.

These riders will be logging between eight and 10 hours each day of the journey with two missions in mind: to remember their fallen comrades and raise money for the National Law Enforcement memorial in Washington, D.C., which bears the names of all officers killed in the line of duty.

“In the afternoon when it’s hot and it’s been a long day on the bicycle, you’re 80 miles-plus on this ride, you obviously start getting tired at times,” said Wall. “What gets you going is the people riding next to you that share the common goal of what you’re doing, but also, too, you think about the ultimate sacrifice of the individual that you ride for. "

This year, the officers from the chapter will be riding for one of their own, a Georgia officer who is usually part of this event was killed last year by a drunk driver.

This year’s group includes officers from Tallahassee and the Big Bend and South Georgia region. They’ll be accompanied by survivors, making honor stops. and wearing the names of a fallen officer on their wrists.

It’s unique that the unity ride starts in Tallahassee; usually it kicks off somewhere else and ends at the national memorial in Washington, D.C.

But, because of the pandemic, they changed the route and destination.

There will be a public ceremony at 7 a.m. Monday at the park near Railroad Square.

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