EUGENE, Ore. -- To honor their fallen comrades, law enforcement officers from across the nation take a 250-mile bike ride from New Jersey to Washington D.C.
The Police Unity Tour ends with a ride though the National Law Enforcement Memorial.
Andy Bechdolt, an officer with the University of Oregon Police Department, is one of the riders in a relatively new chapter of Oregon officers training for the tour. This is his third year making the trek out east for the Police Unity Tour. Video from last year
"The first day you put that jersey on, you get your bike out and make sure it's ready… just butterflies. It's exciting!” said Bechdolt.
He spent Sunday training with a few of the 14 other Oregon law enforcement officers on their team.
"There's a line of bikes that is miles long, and we're all there for the same reason,” said Bechdolt.
Representing the Eugene Police Department, Nate Pieske said he’s well aware of the risk of being a police officer. Every 53 hours an officer is killed in the line of duty.
“We ride for those who died. There is absolutely no room for individuality," said Pieske, “It could just as well be us. Our team could be riding for us the day after tomorrow, we never know."
Officers Pesky, Bechdolt and the other riders training Sunday each carry the memory and pride of an officer that did not make it home.
“You walk along the wall and you see the notes and memoirs and pictures of people's loved ones and you can't help, but be completely overwhelmed,” Pieske said.
Oregon officers Christopher Kilcullen, Robert Libke, James Rector and Scott Lyons are just some of the 19,000 names on the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial.
“Ultimately there's nothing that can be done to fill that void that their friends and family have in their lives… and that's why we do this,” said Pieske.
The officers rode about 65 miles on Sunday to help prepare for the three-day, nearly 300-mile journey in May. Bechdolt said each officer team pays for the flight expenses out of their own pocket. If you’d like to contribute to their cause visit the Police Unity Tour site and enter your officer's name.