DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – This week members of law enforcement from across the country are cycling from Tallahassee to Titusville on a Police Unity Tour.
It normally goes from a different location to the National Memorial in D.C. every year but because of the pandemic, the unity tour was moved to Florida. On Wednesday, the riders made an “honor stop” at the Daytona Beach Police Department.
“We do it because we know that even those that criticize us will call us when they need us and we are still willing to accept the call,” said Chief Jakari Young during the ceremony.
There were over 200 riders, mostly made up of members of law enforcement but others rode carrying on the legacy of lost loved ones.
“It is really touching yet heart breaking to ride next to these folks and listen to their stories and have a father whos children was gunned down serving a drug warrant or how they were killed on a traffic stop,” said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
Chitwood joined Wednesday’s leg of the tour from Ocala to Daytona Beach.
With each peddle in the overall ride from Tallahassee to the American Police Hall in Titusville, the cyclists honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty and raise money for the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“By the end of the day today there are people in our profession who’s name can be added to the wall in Washington D.C. that are working right now,” said Chitwood.
It was Ormond Beach Police Chief Jesse Godfrey’s seventh time doing the full ride. This year, the whole trip is about 350 miles.
“We did 110 on Monday, we did 100 yesterday and today it looks like it’s going to be about 90,” he said.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund, line of duty deaths rose by 96% in 2020 compared to the same time in 2019 - the increase largely because of COVID-19.
“To me, it ensures that nobody will ever forget them and what they did and it means a lot to me,” said Godfrey.
The riders will finish the tour on Thursday.