COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Columbus Police Department (CPD) kicked off National Faith and Blue weekend with their third annual community bicycle ride this evening.

Originating in Georgia, Faith and Blue is a community-officer engagement effort as a part of the nation’s largest annual collaborative policing initiative.

CPD, the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and local faith-based organizations such as Valley of Life Ministries and Grace Baptist Church rode down the streets of Downtown Columbus for a 4.5-mile bicycle ride. The bike ride promotes fellowship and fun in the community.

I hope that it builds trust and unity where the citizens just see us as just regular people and just build those relationships. So I hope it builds trust, transparency and a unity within the city, which there is a unity but just enhances that unity.

Sgt. Angela Florence, CPD Community Relations

We enjoy the opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level. And so we feel that it’s good to just be able to interact with our police department and get to know them and to show that to our community. That same very thing that they’re great people that love serving in our community and they’re doing a great job.

Seth Hon, Senior Pastor at Grace Baptist Church

Just before the ride kicked off, bikers were able to write encouraging messages on a CPD vehicle. They also gathered around for a brief prayer during the welcome ceremony. Valley of Life Ministries Pastor Eddie Florence says events like this build camaraderie and foster lasting relationships between the community and law enforcement officials.

It shows that even dealing with the climate that we are in, that we still can get together as a community and show our support for law enforcement. There are families here from different nationalities, different walks of life, coming together to show support for this community.

Eddie Florence IV, Pastor at Valley of Life Ministries

On Saturday, CPD is hosting a motorcycle ride in honor of the late Corporal Debra Whitley. Riders will meet at Valley of Life Ministries at 8 a.m. and travel to the Hamilton Courthouse parking lot where there will be a butterfly release in honor of Corporal Whitley.