CHICAGO – More than 1,000 motorcycles roared down Lake Shore Drive this morning as part of an annual procession commemorating Chicago police officers killed in the line of duty.
It was the largest turnout to date for the Area Four Ride to Remember, now its seventh year. The cavalcade of bikes included mostly american iron types equipped with sissy bars and ape hangers. There were also dressers, rat bikes, the occasional Honda Gold Wing, and other foreign models.
Cops from Cook, Lake and McHenry counties joined motorcycle clubs including the Blue Knights, Iron Justice, Brothers of Soul, Blood Brothers, American Knights, Patriots, Blue Steel and Wild Pigs.
Former Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline, now head of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, thanked the sweaty, leather-clad crowd for raising enough money to cover school tuition and supplies for 32 children of fallen officers.
“People who don’t do what we do would not understand what we understand,” said the current Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. “It takes a special kind of person to [be a police officer]. But it takes a special kind of family to support them.”
McCarthy said when police officers are killed in the line of duty “it’s their fellow brother and sister officers who take it upon themselves to support the families of their fallen comrades.”
“In turn it’s those families that provide perspective and comfort to the police officers that survive,” he continued. “The families of the fallen are the ones that give us strength.”
Officer Gene Offett, a member of the Chicago Police motorcycle unit, said the annual ride is a “beautiful thing.”
“We’ve got to show that we never forget,” he said. “We consider ourselves one big family.”
He said the recent charges against a suspect accused of killing Officer Michael Bailey didn’t necessarily add any poignancy to this year’s event, adding that officers know the risks of the job and do it anyway.
“It’s just an example of what we do every day,” he said.