Four years ago, after seeing several police-related shootings in the media, Ryan Mills of the Berea Cycling group created Pedal with the Police as a way to let the community have their chance to pay respects and let the police know the community supports them on a daily basis.
“When ever they hear from us, it is when when need them or we are in trouble and so this gives the community a chance to see them for something other than those reasons,” Mills said.
This will be the event’s fourth year, and both Mills and Berea Police Chief David Gregory, who attended the event last year, said that it has grown to be a “pretty big event.”
Pedal with the Police features music and food vendors at the Berea Skate Park, and the group of bicyclists are lead around the park getting a chance to pedal alongside Berea’s finest.
Gregory said the annual event helps promote bicycle safety — making sure everyone is wearing proper headgear and promoting community engagement to communicate with kids so that police seem more approachable.
Gregory said that he enjoys the opportunity to get his bike out and interact with local youth.
“It’s not about policing, it humanizes us for people to think, ‘Oh they aren’t just cops, they are people just like us,’” he said.
Mills, who also coaches a baseball team, said he asked his team of youngsters several days ago if any one of them could name five Berea police officers by name and no one could.
“That is kind of the idea behind the ride — this event will help with that, and give them the opportunity to introduce themselves to our local police,” he said.
Mills said his favorite part of the event is giving away donated bikes to children in the community. He explained that in the past, kids have come up wanting to participate, but that they can’t because they are without a bike. But with the help of donations, each year the cycling club helps kids have the chance to ride along.
“Walmart donated bikes to give out to children and that’s what is really great is when the community comes together and sees the importance of giving back,” he said.
Following the biking event Friday evening, the BPD will host their “Coffee with a Cop” get together on Friday, July 26 from 8 to 9 a.m., which also helps encourage community engagement between residents and local law enforcement.
This will be the BPD's third time doing the event. Gregory said that the event was just about people being able to come talk to the police about concerns or issues that they want addressed.
“There is no agenda, people can just talk about their family and kids and that is what I like about it,” he said. “It gives me the chance too that I can talk about my family and kids and things that I like to do too.”
Pedal with the Police will be held Friday, July 19 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Berea Skate Park, 450 North Broadway in Berea. If anyone is interested in donating a bike, money for a bike or being a vendor at the event, contact Ryan Mills at 859-544-3460.
BPD's Coffee with a Cop will be July 26 from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Russel Acton Folk Recreation Center, 212 West Jefferson Street in Berea.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.