It was a damp and rainy Friday the 13th in Washington, DC, but that didn’t stop the officers of the Los Angeles and San Diego Police Departments from finishing their last stop of the Police Unity Tour. The Southern California Chapter 7 motorcade arrived in uniform and was welcomed at Paxton Van Lines’ headquarters in Springfield, Virginia for the second year of this long running annual event.
Deputy Sheriff Kimmell and Sgt. Steve Wyatt of the LA County Sheriffs Department headed up logistics for shipping and transportation of the motorcycles from LA to Newark, NJ where the Unity Tour began in Somerset, NJ with major stops along the way in Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD, and ending in Washington, DC. Enter Paxton Van Lines, where General Manager, Rick Allison and team arranged for the arrival of the motorcade into a cleared staging area of the warehouse in preparation as the officers readied their motorcycles for the journey back to the west coast.
The primary mission of the Police Unity Tour is to raise awareness of the Police Officers who have died in the line of duty. The annual event is the largest fundraiser for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial. It started in 1997 in Florham Park, NJ with only 18 riders who raised $18,000. Last May the event with over 1900 members raised nearly $2 million, bringing total donations to some $18 million since inception. May 2016 marks the 20th anniversary thanks to the vision of the 18 legacy riders that sparked one of the Memorial’s leading events in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
We had the opportunity to speak with Sgt. John Aufdemberg and Officer Ortiz who led the men for the event in the DC area and at Paxton. “Our 24 unit motorcade is critical to directing and blocking traffic for public safety during this annual tour. With several hundred registered riders on their bicycles, the trail extends sometimes to over one mile long,” said Officer Eric Ortiz. Ortiz proudly serves the LAPD part-time, and is also a fellow Atlas Agent (Ortiz Bros of Los Angeles), so it comes as no surprise how Paxton was asked to participate for the last leg of the tour in DC. When asked about their passion for this Unity Tour ride it was a unanimous response and easily described by simply standing behind their motto, “We ride for those who died.” Officer Larry Rowland added “we’re fortunate to all be standing here today and while each of us may have slightly different personal reasons, we do this in honor of the fallen officers in the line of duty…those who cannot be here. We do it for their families and children.”
As the last few motorcycles were being loaded prior to their departure, Bill Paxton, COO, The Paxton Companies, presented a plaque to the Southern California Chapter 7 motoracade in recognition of their dedication and commitment to the Police Unity Tour.
See you next year, Officers