Bike ride fundraiser will raise money for upgraded police body armor

A South Lake Police officer is preparing to ride across the state of Minnesota alongside officers from six other departments, to raise money for upgraded body armor.

Officer Zach Robertson says after responding to two active shooter situations this spring, he was moved to participate in the Shield 616 bike ride to raise money for rifle-rated bullet-proof vests for everyone in his department. 

"Its an honorable job but I want to go home at the end of the day and I want my colleagues to go home too," said Robertson.

Like most departments, officers with the South Lake Police department are issued standard bullet proof vests designed to stop pistol bullets. But police chief Brian Tholen says they are more frequently encountering suspects wielding high powered rifles.

"Our vests that we currently use are soft body armor and they were designed 20 years ago to stop pistol rounds," said South Lake Police Chief Brian Tholen. "We’re not against pistols anymore, we’re up against rifles.

Robertson will ride 456 miles over the course of five days starting June 19, riding from Winona to Fargo, North Dakota. His goal is to raise $36,000 which would equip every officer in his department with upgraded armor.

Also joining him on the ride are officers from the Pope County Sheriff’s Office and Starbuck Police Department, two agencies that were involved in a domestic violence call last year that resulted in the death of Pope County Sheriff Josh Owen.

"Its great that we can get these vests but its unfortunate that we’re at this point in our society," said Chief Tholen.

Tholen says the vests will be worn daily as part of the standard uniform, and they hope to also purchase helmets, shields and bullet proof door panels with the money raised.

If you’d like to donate to Robertson’s ride, click here.