Seven Laguna Beach police are personally fundraising to participate in a ride that honors fallen officers, which tragically strikes close to home this year on two levels: not only did they lose colleague Jon Coutchie to a traffic accident last September, but he rode with them when they took a similar ride in 2010.
On May 10, Officer Julia Bowman and the rest of the team, which includes sworn officers Brian Clasby, Spring Sendele, Zach Martinez and Robert Gifford along with dispatcher Yvette Barbari and investigations secretary Nit Farnes will be
riding over 300 miles in memory of Coutchie.
Bowman, Clasby and Sendele rode with Coutchie in the 2010 Project 999 Ride, an Orange County law enforcement group bike ride of 630 miles between police memorials in Sacramento and Santa Ana. Coutchie volunteered to participate without hesitation or reservation although he didn’t have a road bike and had never ridden long distances, Bowman said.
This year’s team will depart from Somerset, N.J., and travel through Philadelphia and Baltimore before arriving in Washington, D.C., on May 13 to join an expected 50,000 people at a candlelight vigil at the National Law Enforcement Memorial. At the ceremony, the Laguna motor officer’s name will be officially added to the memorial along with the names of every officer who died in the line of duty during 2013.
The tour both raises awareness about line-of-duty law enforcement deaths and supports a national memorial fund that serves as a clearinghouse of information and statistics about them.
Each rider must raise about $1,850 to participate in the tour; donating $1,000 toward the fund and the remainder covering support services, ground transportation, overnight lodging and food during ride, Bowman said.
Donations are tax deductible and may be made on line at socalput.com/sponsorRider.asp or checks can be sent directly to Police Unity Tour, Southern California Chapter, 21143 Hawthorne Boulevard, #293, Torrance, Calif., 90503. Make checks payable to Police Unity Tour Southern California Chapter and note the name of the rider in the memo area. It would be helpful if donations were received by April 15.