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Return Of Police Unity Tour Draws Ridenour
Stan sheriff
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department was represented at the Police Unity Tour on the East Coast, with RPS Chief Ridenour, and Deputies MacKinnon and Berndt. Photo Contributed

National Police Week is celebrated in the month of May and there is also an annual Police Unity Tour that takes place on the East Coast where law enforcement “Ride for those that Died.” Riverbank Police Chief Ed Ridenour participated in his first Police Unity Tour earlier this month to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Last year the ride did not occur due to the pandemic but this year the event returned on May 9. The ride begins in New Jersey and ends in Washington D.C. at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Throughout the ride the weather cooperated which made it an even better experience for Ridenour as this was his first ride on the East Coast.

Law enforcement officers have a dangerous job and put their lives on the line each day. The Police Unity Tour brings awareness that several officers have died in the line of duty and their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

“I think it is important to remind the community that officers do unfortunately provide the ultimate sacrifice in protecting our communities,” added Ridenour. “We have to remember that the job that our officers do day in and day out is very dangerous and they are risking their own lives for the safety of others to keep our society safe to keep our communities safe.”

Ridenour is part of the Southern California Chapter VII and rode for Stanislaus County Deputy Sheriff Robert Lee Paris, Jr. whose end of watch was on April 12, 2012. Paris was serving an eviction notice and had a locksmith on hand along with him in Modesto. They were both struck by gunfire through the front door and were both killed.

“I think it is important that we remember the fallen officers,” stated Ridenour. “Bob was a mentor to me when I was a new Deputy and he was a senior Deputy; he had been around awhile. He is somebody that I thought had an awesome balance of work life and home life and was very adventurous in the outdoors. I too enjoy the outdoors and we kind of connected with that. It is always hard losing someone that you know on a personal level.”

The first day of the tour the riders participate in a training ride to get their legs warmed up, riding through New Jersey and honoring their fallen officers. They also stopped at a 911 Memorial. The second day of the tour they did about a 92-mile ride from New Jersey to downtown Philadelphia. The next day the cyclists rode from Philadelphia to Baltimore for about 106 miles.

He said, “It was a long day on a bike but it was a great ride. The weather cooperated. It rained when we were not riding. The weather was beautiful and there were a lot of great people.”

As the group traveled through the different cities people cheered them on, honked their horns, waved, gave them thumbs up and posted up signs showing support for law enforcement. If they passed an area where there was a fallen officer they would stop and share their story.

On the fourth day the riders hit the road from Baltimore to Washington D.C. to the Law Enforcement Memorial where they were joined by thousands of other officers from across the country.

“It is a horseshoe shape and I knew there was going to be a lot of people there,” expressed Ridenour. “I knew it was going to be very supportive to law enforcement. There is something about entering that memorial, the emotions just overwhelm you because it is full of all the survivors, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children and you’re riding through the memorial and all the names are there and the flowers and the little kids have their hands out and you know they lost their parents and you just can’t help to get filled with emotions going through there.”

At the ceremony all the names of the officers that were killed in the line of duty throughout the country were read and a candlelight vigil was held.

Ridenour has been cycling for a few years now and has trained for the event. Cycling has become a passion of his and remembering the fallen on the tour made this an easy decision to partake in. He plans to participate in it again.

There were 300 bicycles shipped to Newark, NJ along with 45 police motorcycles from California to escort the cyclists. Stanislaus County Sheriff had two other riders, Deputies MacKinnon and Berndt that participated in the Police Unity Tour.

“It was very rewarding knowing that all this effort that we put in, a lot of days in the saddle is very important,” remarked Ridenour. “It brings remembrance to all those family members and showing the support. The hard part was the little kids. You go by and they touch your hands. Riding through the memorial was the most heartfelt and memorable and emotional part of it. It was just a great ride that we are able to ride for them like the motto, we ride for those that died.”

Riverbank Police Services Chief Ed Ridenour rode for fallen Sheriff Deputy Robert Paris, killed in the line of duty on April 12, 2012 in Modesto. Photo Contributed
One of the days during the Police Unity Tour the cyclists stopped by a 9/11 Memorial. Photo Contributed