PORTSMOUTH -- Police officers from Hampton Roads are joining others across the state riding remember officers killed in the line of duty.

They began the Police Unity Tour in Portsmouth at 8:00 a.m. Thursday and will end at the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial in Washington, DC on May 12.

The primary purpose of the Police Unity Tour is to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty.

The secondary purpose is to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial and Museum.

170 cyclists, 22 police motorcycles and support vehicles crossed the James River Bridge into Newport News around 9:15 a.m. as they head to Richmond.

The first Unity Tour was organized in May 1997, by Officer Patrick P. Montuore of the Florham Park (NJ) Police Department, in an effort to bring about public awareness of law enforcement officers that have died in the line of duty and to honor their sacrifices. The tour started with 18 riders.

Last year, more than 1,200 members nationwide that made the trip.

Many officers are paying tribute by riding in the 2012 Law Enforcement United Memorial Ride. The officers got on their bikes at 8:00 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel on Woodlake Drive in Chesapeake, and will pass through Richmond and Stafford and end up in DC on May 12.

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