The observance of National Police Week began on Sunday, May 10 and will end on Saturday, May 16. Riverbank Police Services (RPS) along with other agencies traditionally participate in a variety of festivities during the week. With the Stanislaus County Peace Officer Memorial canceled as well as the 39th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington D.C. and the Police Unity Tour also canceled due to the coronavirus, agencies are getting creative to continue the memorial for those that paid the ultimate price.
“National Police Week is normally pretty busy for us as we have several events including the Stanislaus County Peace Officer Memorial we attend,” stated RPS Chief Ed Ridenour. “The Peace Officer Memorial has been suspended since we cannot have any large gatherings. Internally, some of our employees have kicked off a few things to remember those officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Chief Ridenour explained that this past Monday a sergeant commissioned a workout of the day to remember Deputy Jason Garner and CSO Rachel Johnson, who lost their lives in the line of duty.
On Wednesday, May 13 Modesto Police Department, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Ceres Police Department, RPS, and retired officer Dave Wallace will be participating in a memorial bike ride. The ride is a small Unity Tour to honor those that died in the line of duty including Dave’s brother, Deputy Dennis Wallace, who was shot and killed investigating a suspicious vehicle. RPS Sergeant Lloyd MacKinnon will be riding in the local memorial along with several other deputies and officers to honor and remember the fallen.
The annual Police Unity Tour has been canceled due to COVID-19 that thousands of law enforcement officers throughout the country participate in during Police Week. The bicycle ride covers approximately 300 miles on the East Coast and ends in Washington D.C. at the National Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil. MacKinnon has participated in that tour for the past two years this year would have been his third. Their motto is “We ride for those who died” and their mission is to raise awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
“I am saddened by the whole cancellation of national police week including the candlelight vigil and the unity tour,” stated MacKinnon. “However I’m glad officers and deputies in Stanislaus County can get together and do a small memorial ride in honor of all the police officers who were killed in the line of duty over the last year. I personally will be riding in memory of Harold Harless EOW (end of watch) 10-17-65.”
There will be a virtual Candlelight Vigil on May 13 at 5 p.m. on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. There will be 307 names engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. For more information on the candlelight vigil or to light virtual candles visit nleomf.org.
According to the history on policeweek.org, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 that designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day. The Memorial Service began in 1982 as a gathering in Senate Park of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement. Decades later, the event, more commonly known as National Police Week, has grown to a series of events.