The Police Unity Tour Rolls Out Again
“There isn’t anything you can do as a police officer that matches riding in the Police Unity Tour [PUT] in terms of connecting with the roots of what it means to be a police officer,” says Craig White, a retired Los Angeles Police Officer, and Training Coordinator for the PUT’s Southern California Chapter VII. “It is an incredible experience that enables you to enhance existing friendships and develop new ones with officers from across the nation. There is such a sense of camaraderie; it confirms that being a police officer is much more than just a job; you really get a sense of family.”
And, he should know. White, the chapter’s former Vice-President, is a veteran of the ride since 2001.
With chapters across the country, the PUT has raised more than $1.5 million for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. since its inception in 1967. Equally as important, however, is how the PUT raises awareness of the law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
“The motto of the PUT is ‘We Ride for Those Who Died’—you don’t get a more worthwhile cause than that,” says David Goldstein, a partner with the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK). “We at GEK are inspired by the efforts of the PUT, and are honored to support this cause, particularly those participants from the Southern California chapter. We interact on a daily basis with public safety officers injured in the line of duty, and we see the toll these injuries take on an officer as well as his or her family. In some cases, we have seen fine men and women lose their lives trying to protect ours, which is the ultimate sacrifice.”
The 2013 PUT begins in Somerset, N.J., on May 10 and ends on May 13 in Washington, D.C., where the riders will meet up with others from chapters across the nation for a candlelight vigil at the memorial.
The road to the PUT is not an easy one, however. When White dons his Training Coordinator helmet, he means business—he has to if he’s going to get the bicyclists in shape for what can be three grueling days in the saddle if you’re not prepared. “There’s a huge difference between riding along the beach, enjoying the scenery, and logging in three consecutive days totaling about 250 miles.”
But, all the hard work is worth it when the PUT rolls into Washington, D.C. “The pain is offset by the adrenaline that kicks in when you enter RFK Stadium and gather with the riders from all the other chapters. Together, there are about 1,800 of us, and we ride slowly through the streets of D.C. to the Memorial, with people cheering and clapping. You see the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial; it’s extremely impressive and becomes extremely emotional.”
Nothing can touch the emotions, however, of the candlelight vigil when White and fellow riders stand in formation, wearing full police uniforms, in the ceremonial greeting line for the survivors of the officers who have fallen in the line of duty during the year. “When you see the little kids, it’s really touching. You know they’re thinking about the father or mother they lost….”
Registration for the 2013 PUT is closed, as riders will be rolling out soon. But, there is always next year. To find out more about the PUT Southern California Chapter VII, visit their Facebook page or their website where you can make a donation to this very worthwhile fund-raising effort.