PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Police officers, along with some members of the community, kicked off Saturday morning on their bikes for the first annual Memorial Bike Ride.
“It goes through all of South Division where three officers were killed,” said 17th District Officer James Lippi, who says planning began about three months ago.
Starting with a color guard and the National Anthem, the event honored three fallen police officers in the South Division ahead of Police Week.
It was a joint effort between the 1st, 3rd, and 17th police districts.
“Every day these officers go out and put their lives on the line and don’t know if they’re going to come home. We’re in a difficult time of policing, and I think it’s very important we honor those who made their sacrifice. It’s the most important thing we can do for them to keep their memory alive,” said 17th District Captain Michael O’Donnell.
More than fifty officers, neighbors, and Police Explorer Cadets rode their bikes through an eleven-mile route.
They paused at three different sites where three Philadelphia Police officers had been killed on the job.
Those specific officers passed away decades ago, but organizers say it is important to continue to keep their sacrifice at the forefront.
“Through the course of the bike ride, we’re going to spend two minutes at each site honoring their memory. We’ve decided this event is much larger than ourselves and it’s a great way to honor the officers killed in the line of duty,” said 1st District Community Relations Officer Tom Tolstoy.
He added that the bike patrol is a critical part of community relations.
“It’s instrumental in creating relationships but more importantly in maintaining relationships,” he said. “As the community identifies with the officer, they can now put a name with the face.”
The Memorial Bike Ride ended with a barbeque at Chew Playground on Washington Avenue in South Philly.