DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - South Florida police officers are paying tribute to their own. More than 250 motorcycle riders took part in the sixth annual Palm Beach County Police Memorial Motorcycle Ride. The ride started in Palm Beach Gardens and ended at Okeeheelee Park. This year, it's also making an important stop in Delray Beach.
Motorcycles roared down Atlantic Avenue this morning. Law enforcement officers, retired police and police supporters turned out to honor fallen officers through Palm Beach County's Police Memorial Motorcycle Ride.
"They're just like my brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces," explained Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who rode with them. "They're the same to me and it's so important that we remember them."
According to the National Police Memorial Fund, seventy-one officers have lost their lives to gunfire, traffic accidents and other causes so far this year. Ten of those deaths happened in law enforcement agencies in Florida, the most of any state in the country.
"We too have borne the loss of officers," Delray Beach Police Chief Anthony Strianese told the hundreds who gathered at Delray Beach Police's memorial.
Those losses are why riders are stopping in Delray Beach this year. They're remembering Officer Daniel John Kennedy, who was murdered in 1974, and Sergeant Adam Rosenthal. His death is a more recent loss for this community. Rosenthal lost his life when his patrol car crashed in February. Even years apart, Chief Strianese said this police community continues to support each other.
"When (Sergeant) Adam Rosenthal was recently killed, the Kennedy family almost immediately reached out for them to let them know they're available. That demonstrates the brotherhood that's in this profession."
It's a brotherhood, Chaplain James Shackelford said, made all the stronger through the dangers of the job.
"They put on their badge, they put on their weapon and they go out and they say goodbye to their children, their wife/spouse," he said. "They don't know what is going to happen, but they're ready to stand up. They're ready to do what's necessary to protect our communities and that means so much."
Delray Beach Police will hold its own police memorial Wednesday at 10am in front of the police department at 300 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach. Police spokesperson, Sergeant Nicole Guerriero said Sergeant Adam Rosenthal's name will not be added to their police memorial wall this year.
"Traditionally, the police memorial recognizes the officers who have passed from the year prior, so that would be 2010," she said. "Next year, we will have Sergeant Rosenthal's name added to the memorial."