MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - South Florida police officers and their chiefs had a great time Wednesday during their annual unity bike ride.
This year, it was held in Miami Beach. Officers said the event not only gets them closer to the community as they ride along, but also to students who always receive them with a warm welcome.
Brothers and sisters in blue from several agencies throughout Miami-Dade County took part in the 5-mile bike ride.
"This is the kind of day I really enjoy, getting out of the office (and) getting on a bike with cops, sending a message that we are here to serve and protect and we’re here to bond with the community," Miami Beach police Chief Dan Oates said.
Besides greeting people along their route, one of their favorite stops is visiting students at their schools.
"We go by the schools and see how enthusiastic the children are to see us. Our interactions with them are priceless," Miami-Dade police Assistant Director Alfredo Ramirez said.
Children from North Beach Elementary School were among those who eagerly greeted officers once they showed up on their bikes.
"They are helping out our community getting better," one student said.
The unity ride will head to Key Biscayne next year.
"We are going to take these old guys over that big bridge over there and we'll see how good they do when we go there next year," Key Biscayne police Chief Charles Press said, jokingly. "That is a challenge given and they better start practicing."
Press will lead the bike ride next year, just as Oates did Wednesday.
After the ride, the officers celebrated with a much-deserved lunch on Espanola Way.
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