Miami Gardens police officers have participated in the Police Unity Tour for the last two years. The primary purpose of the Police Unity Tour is to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty. The secondary purpose of the Police Unity Tour is to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum.
To participate in this ride the rider must be a police officer, retired police officer or a survivor of an officer killed in the line of duty. The rider must raise a minimum of $1,800.00, which is usually collected from the communities the officer works in or from family and friends. The rider must train for several weeks leading up to this event and then be able to ride 250 miles during the three day Police Unity Tour. The rider must also select a fallen law enforcement officer from the previous year and represent them for the ride. The rider must learn of the officer’s death, contact the fallen officer’s agency and attempt to make contact with a survivor of the fallen law enforcement officers’ family to explain what he/she is doing. The rider is provided with a blue memorial wrist band, which has been branded with the fallen officer’s name and end of watch on it. This band is worn from the beginning of the ride to the end. The band is then given to the survivor on the night of the candle light vigil.
The Florida chapter, Chapter 8, began the ride in Portsmouth, VA with a 110 mile ride the first day ending in Tappahannock, VA. The second day traverses through 70 miles of the rolling “hills” of Virginia ending in Fredericksburg, VA. The third day is the big day, which is when approximately 1400 riders travel the final 70 miles to Washington DC, eventually meeting up at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (RFK Stadium.) The riders come from all across the nation as well as other countries such as England and Canada. All the riders gather at the stadium to meet, talk and share their stories of police work and the ride. They will then ride to the memorial together.
The final two miles of the ride is held in downtown Washington DC, with traffic stopped so thousands of supporters and onlookers can watch the unified riders tirelessly arrive at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. At this time the riders provide the President of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial with the money raised from the supporters. This year all chapters raised $1.5 million dollars, the most in the fifteen years of the tours existence.
The final event for the Police Unity Tour is the Candle Light Vigil, which is held at the Memorial. Chapter 8 was one of the chapters selected to escort the fallen officer’s survivors to their seats for the ceremony. This is a very touching and eye opening experience for the rider and the survivors. At this time, the blue memorial band is given to the fallen officers’ survivor.
We appreciate the City of Miami Gardens and businesses throughout the City that have supported us throughout this event. This year’s riders were Detective Alex Barney, Detective Michael Horn, and Detective William Wagenmann.