Spinning in a dark room to blaring, bass-driven music while an enthusiastic instructor twirls a towel in the air and yells for everyone to push harder is a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The afternoon of March 12 was a little different, though, because this sweat session was more than a good workout.
Thirty-three people from several law enforcement agencies and supporters of the badge participated in an indoor cycling class at Full Psycle HB to raise money for the Westminster Police Officers’ Association Memorial Fund.
The event, put on by WPD Officer Rafaelo Papale and his wife Jenn, with Full Psycle donating the studio space and instructor, raised a little more than $1,200 for the cause.
“This is not just for Westminster officers,” Papale said. “The fund goes to support officers from all around Orange County, California or wherever it’s needed.”
The memorial fund helps grieving families of fallen officers killed in the line of duty and provides support for officers injured on the job or battling serious illness.
Donations can range from providing a simple meal to contributing to medical expenses.
“We’ll donate whatever we can and every little bit helps,” Papale said. “It’s just a good cause.”
Saturday’s event, although light and fun, also was a sobering reminder of the realities those in law enforcement face.
In the last 10 days, seven officers died in the line of duty, including a California Highway Patrol Officer who was hit and killed while trying to direct traffic in snowy conditions on Interstate 80 near Truckee, and a 28-year-old Maryland cop who was fatally shot during an unprovoked attack on police headquarters in Prince George County.
So far in 2016, 23 officers have died in the line of duty nationwide and two have died in California, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
These tragedies drum up an outpouring of support from the law enforcement community, no matter what county or state the fallen are from.
“We are not individuals as far as agencies go,” Papale said. “We all help each other out, and that’s part of why I love this job so much — the camaraderie.”
“I am the fortunate one who gets to go home to my wife and kids every day. There are officers who don’t get to do that. This is the least we can do.”
Members of the Westminster Police Department in May also will participate in a 630-mile bike ride from Sacramento to Westminster to honor fallen officers in the annual Memorial Ride.
A bake sale and silent auction to raise money for that event will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 23 on the first floor of the police department, 8200 Westminster Ave.