Officers pay tribute to the fallen through shoreline cycling trip

Michigan Police Unity Team cyclists are given a police escort to the Manistee Police Department’s parking lot on Monday. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — A group of law enforcement officers with the Michigan Police Unity Team cycled through Manistee Monday afternoon as part of a four-day shoreline tour set to end in Petosky this week.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 13 officers set off from St. Joseph for the inaugural Lake Michigan shoreline ride. Sgt. James Every said the 313-mile ride honors law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Michigan.

“The sole purpose of MI-COPS is to provide support to surviving law enforcement families and co-workers in rebuilding their lives after the traumatic and life-changing experience of losing an officer in the line of duty,” said Every. “This ride, to us, is very emotional and the reason we do this is to honor the fallen.”

Cyclists made it to Manistee by 5 p.m. Monday, ending day two at the Manistee Police Department’s parking lot. Tim Kozal, Department of Public Safety director, said the cyclists were given a

Michigan Police Unity Team cyclists made it to Manistee on Monday afternoon, ending day two at the Manistee Police Department’s parking lot. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

police escort to ensure the safest route through Manistee County.

“They told us that they were going to touch down here, so I though it was best that we afford them a safe route,” Kozal said.

Participating individuals are current local, state and federal officers and survivors of fallen officers who all work and reside in the mid-Michigan area. Andrea Arrington, a surviving family member of a Detroit police officer who was killed in the line of duty, and president of Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors (MI-COPS), is also taking on the inaugural ride.

This year alone, 70 law enforcement officers nationwide have been killed in the line of duty.

“MI-COPS has members throughout the state ready to offer help to fellow survivors,” stated Arrington. “No one should be left to suffer their loss alone.”

The officers also raise funds to participate. Funds raised go to MI-COPS, which provides support to surviving law enforcement families and colleagues.

“Riding 100 miles a day really gets your body going, and the stress of that 100 miles lets you know that it’s not something that everybody can do unless they train for it,” Every said. “When we are out here together, we know that each of us have to do our part and pull each other along.

“The emotions are high because you’re tired, and low at times because you are talking to survivors and about some things that really hurt, or bring up some emotions for us.”

Along the way, Every said the group has stopped at memorials for fallen officers, including the Trooper Paul Butterfield Memorial site located in Free Soil. On Sunday, the group stopped at the Grand Haven Police Memorial and Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office.

They are placing blue roses at each site.

“We ride so the officers who die in the line of duty will never be forgotten,” said Every. “Along the way at different departments and memorials we have been able to stop and pay tribute, meet some family members and meet some of the officers who were there during the incidents.”

Cyclists are traveling from Manistee to Traverse City on Tuesday, and from Traverse City to Petoskey on Wednesday.

The inaugural 2019 ride is a trial with hopes of expanding into a larger fundraiser in 2020. For updates or to donate, visit the Michigan Police Unity Team Facebook page.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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