Riverbank Police Services Chief Ed Ridenour participated for the first time in a Police Unity Tour challenge ride, as a way to continue the tour in a smaller fashion since it was postponed this year due to COVID. The Southern California chapter took a coastal ride that totaled about 65 miles raising awareness about the law enforcement officers that died in the line of duty and to make sure that they will never be forgotten.
“We were there to bring remembrance to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice losing their life in the line of duty for law enforcement,” stated Ridenour. “Their motto is we ride for those who died.”
The Police Unity Tour occurs during Police Week in May and is usually a four-day bicycle ride that goes from New Jersey to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. There are nine chapters with over 2,500 members that are from all over the country. They also raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial.
Police Week was on May 9 and ended on May 15 which is when they had their ride in southern California. The day was overcast, about 62 degrees, and the scenery was beautiful, Ridenour said, which made the ride really nice along the coast. The public support, he added, was a huge reminder that law enforcement is generally appreciated and supported.
The biggest highlight from his first ride was the support from the public. Along the bike path there were people cheering for the chapter as they rolled by, clapping and stopping to thank them.
“That was just really such a huge reminder,” expressed Ridenour about the show of public support on their ride. “As we were going across an overpass there were people on the freeway honking and waving along the whole 65 mile route. People that just happened to see us and see our uniforms and realized what it was greeted us with smiles and it felt really great to get that back from the community.”
With each chapter doing their own smaller scale bicycle tour with the same sentiment in mind, the purpose continued. The Southern California Chapter rode from Ventura to Santa Barbara and then back to Ventura. There were 85 law enforcement officers from various agencies that participated in the ride including Ridenour, Lieutenant Lloyd MacKinnon and Sergeant Bob Berndt from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.
Ridenour explained that there are several law enforcement officers from varying positions that participate including high ranking officials like the Los Angeles Police Chief that is also an avid cyclist that participated in the ride. The officers can ride for a fallen officer like MacKinnon who rode once again for Riverbank Police Department patrolman Harold B. Harless, killed in the line of duty on Oct. 17, 1965 on Patterson Road.
During Police Week there are usually different ways in which officers pay tribute to those that have given the ultimate sacrifice and this ride for Ridenour was a new way to do so.
“I found it very rewarding,” noted Ridenour about the ride. “Along the way we paused for a few breaks and we would talk about the officers that lost their lives and remind people of that. It was great. I am glad that I did it. I really want to do it again next year and I want to do the four day ride back east.”
Although cycling has always been a hobby, he started getting more into it last year and he is glad that he did as he has made some important connections and bonds with other law enforcement officers across the state. During the ride Ridenour got into a discussion about community policing with another officer and they were able to share ideas and brainstorm.
“They are part of the same community and you make new friendships where you can bounce new ideas off of,” said Ridenour. “We are seeing very similar things and it is good that we are working together. It is a big deal to remember the fallen officers.”