These Calif. LEOs ride 630 miles over four days each year to remember fallen officers
"Our mission is that nobody ever forgets. We’ll continue until we can’t do it anymore,” said Commander Kevin MacCormick
Reprinted with permission from Behind the Badge
By Greg Mellen
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat keeps these peace officers from their appointed annual rounds.
A contingent of officers from the Westminster Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Department completed an arduous, four-day, 630-mile cycling trek to honor and pay tribute to fellow officers who died in the line of duty. The procession of police concluded the annual sojourn at the Westminster Police Department’s Fallen Officer Memorial on May 26 after embarking from the state memorial in Sacramento.
While the officers were weary from the trip, Sgt. Bill Drinnin tried to divert attention from himself and the other riders.
“None of this is about anyone you see riding in today,” he said. “This ride is about the names you see on this monument.”
Commander Kevin MacCormick said, “our mission is that nobody ever forgets. We’ll continue until we can’t do it anymore.”
“It’s a painful trip, physically demanding, you can’t just jump on a bike and do it,” Drinnin said.
Each year, for those who have been at it for a while like Drinnin and MacCormick, the ride gets a little harder. But the inspiration never wavers, the cause never diminishes.
“Whatever pain we feel physically doesn’t scratch the service of the pain families feel every day,” Drinnin said of the survivors of those who die in service. “So that’s what carries us through. When we can’t sit any more, when we’re tired, when our legs are cramping on us, when our minds are doing weird things, we just remember the families. That’s what pulls us through.”
Drinnin says his interest dates back to 2004 when he was a motor officer and fellow officer Steven Phillips died in a motorcycle crash.
The bicyclists ride to raise awareness and funds for families of peace officers who have died in the line of duty.
Arriving in Westminster, the cyclists and those who came to greet them encircled the memorial and observed a moment of silence. Orange County Sheriff’s Department Retired Deputy Ron Dunlap started the interagency ride in 2001 to raise funds for the Project 999 Foundation, which supports Orange County officers injured or killed in the line of duty.
This year, the names of 394 officers killed in the line of duty were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. These included 295 who died in 2020, 182 of which were from COVID-19. In California, 18 officers died on duty, including 13 related to COVID-19.
In 2012, Drinnin began organizing the event, adding Code 3 Cycling to the cause. Code 3 is the Westminster Police Department’s memorial foundation supporting fallen and injured officers and their families locally and across the country.
Next year’s ride will be the 10th anniversary of this iteration of the ride and Drinnin hopes for a large group.
“This is our passion,” Drinnin said of the ride, noting that he and MacCormick were also on the department’s honor guard. “We like to do a lot of things, but this is really it for us.”