Local police officer rides in honor of fallen brothers and sisters

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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - "We ride for those who die", that's the motto of the Police Unity Tour, an annual bike ride into Washington CD, during Police Week, to honor law enforcement killed in the line of duty. It's canceled this year because of the coronavirus. But, one local police officer is still riding for the fallen.

Pulaski police officer Kyle Betzner carries on the Police Unity Tour with a solo ride covering about 75 miles a day (WBAY photo)

From Crandon to Marinette, then Marinette to Hobart, now Hobart to Fond du Lac, Pulaski Police Officer Kyle Betzner, part of Wisconsin's Police Unity Tour Riders, is on day three of his own personal trek.

"Each one of us have been doing some solo or small group rides due to the coronavirus pandemic that's going on which canceled our event out in Washington DC this year for National Police Week, so we still wanted to do something to remember the fallen officers," say Betzner.

Instead of riding with dozens of officers from Wisconsin, and hundreds from around the world, in what would have been his fifth Police Unity Tour, Betzner is tackling the more than 200 miles by himself. Local departments, along his route are helping by providing an escort, as he rides his final leg in honor of his three Wisconsin brothers, killed in the line of duty, whose names were to be etched into the Memorial Wall this year.

Betzner says, "We still wear our bracelets each year with this year honoring John Hetland, Matt Rittner, and Fred Wiercyski from Oconomowoc, Milwaukee, and Racine PD's."

While Betzner's three day tour isn't exactly how he expected to be honoring the fallen, and he's missing some of the camaraderie with the other riders and the families of the fallen, he knows the importance of every mile he bikes.

He adds, "It's a very emotional event once you start getting to know that families and the stories of the officers and each mile that I pedal it just makes it that much more meaningful."

And it's that emotion that gets him on the bike, each year, after saying he would ride once and be done.