Riverbank Police Services Sergeant Lloyd MacKinnon and Stanislaus County Sheriff Detective Berndt participated in the Police Unity Tour with about 2,500 other law enforcement officers throughout the country from May 8 through May 12. The bicycle ride covers nearly 300 miles that begins in Somerset, New Jersey and ends in Washington D.C. at the National Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil.
The officers are part of Southern California Chapter 7 which has about 450 police officers. The purpose of the Unity Tour is to raise awareness about the men and women in law enforcement who have died in the line of duty.
On the first day, MacKinnon and Burnt had to build their bikes that were shipped to the East Coast. On May 9 they attended a general safety meeting and then participated in a 40-mile warm-up ride around rural areas of Somerset.
“In that (Somerset) area a lot of people were affected by 9-11,” stated MacKinnon. “A lot of people died. There is a huge 9-11 memorial with huge pieces of steel form the world trade towers. Every time we go for a ride we are like a moving memorial to people that have lost their lives in the line of duty and 9-11.”
The moving memorial of police officers from all over the country along with family members that lost loved ones in the line of duty began on the 10th. They started in Somerset and traveled to Philadelphia, then from Philadelphia to Baltimore and from Baltimore to D.C. where the police memorial is.
“It is pretty breathtaking when you are riding out of NJ to Philadelphia,” added MacKinnon. “There are lots of hills and it is pretty tough and you are going 100 miles then you go to bed and wake up and do it again.”
This is the second year that MacKinnon has participated in the ride which he stated he will continue to do until his body physically will not allow him to do so.
MacKinnon and Berndt are riding for Tony Hinostroza a Stanislaus County Sheriff Deputy that was killed in the line of duty last year. People can only participate in the ride if they are active law enforcement, retired or a survivor. So there are wives and children from fathers and husbands that were killed in the line of duty.
“It is pretty amazing,” stated MacKinnon. “The purpose of the Unity Tour is awareness for cops that have died in the line of duty. We all wear the same shirts. Our motto is “we ride for those that died.” We have to raise money and it goes to the national monument.”
The bike riders joined thousands of people at the Memorial where names of every officer who died in the line of duty in 2018 were read and added to the Memorial that has over 21,000 fallen heroes.
The Unity tour also raises money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The guys will wear metal bracelets with Hinostroza’s name and the date of his end of watch that they will give to his mom and son as well others that will go to their family.
At the end of the ride and arriving at the capitol with people lining the streets cheering the riders on and the memory of their fallen comrades makes the Police Unity Tour something they will always treasure.