Project Overwatch motorcycle rally

Project Overwatch motorcycle rally participants line up Saturday outside the Belton Police Department.

Project Overwatch, an emergency responders support group made up of veterans and motorcycle riders, paid a friendly visit Saturday morning to the Temple Police Department.

“We’re just supporting the police out here,” said Hale Brown, the group’s spokeswoman. “We’re saying ‘thank you’ for all the things they do.”

Members of the group cordially greeted the large number of officers who came outside to meet them. Many posed for a huge group photo.

Lt. Edward Best, a watch commander for Temple Police, called it a “very special” event.

“For most of us, there’s no such thing as a normal day,” he said of police officers. “We see a part of human nature … that is not always positive.”

This can lead to a wrong opinion of how most Americans view police, Best said.

“Having all these people take the time on a very hot day, we appreciate that they feel so strongly … that they would come and honor us,” he said.

It is normal for a police officer to face a potentially dangerous situation several times a day, Best said.

“That’s what we do for a living,” he said. “There are a lot of people that want us around. This is a demonstration of that.”

Officer Pierre Greene was among the officers who came out to meet the visitors.

“I’m grateful for the support for our law enforcement,” he said. “They’re really embracing that we’re not all the same, and we’re out here to do a good job.

“We have amazing support from our community and from our city leaders here in Temple,” Greene said. “They expect us to do a job that we do every day. We preserve and protect the freedoms of every citizen in our community.”

Before Project Overwatch — with about 30 motorcycle riders and a few assistants in pickups — came to the Temple Police Department, they stopped at the Belton Police Department and the Bell County Sheriff’s Department, Brown said. They will be making another Bell County run in September, she said, to Nolanville and Harker Heights.

Based in Liberty Hill, Project Overwatch was founded in 2016 by Jamahl Labbe. He has family in Lake Charles, La., she said, and is there this weekend to help with hurricane cleanup.

The organization has three long-range goals, Brown said: to help emergency responders with equipment needs; to help fill training gaps; and to put aside emergency funds for the families of emergency responders.

Johnny Memphis of Troy was among the motorcycle riders in the group.

“We’re here to back the blue,” he said. “They don’t get a good press all the time. We’re letting them know we’re definitely behind them, and there are millions behind them. We try to be part of the cure, not part of the cause.”

Luis Rodriguez, president of Wind Therapy Freedom Riders, said he has participated in many similar motorcycle runs and rallies.

“We came out of pay respect to the officers, and we see it as our honor and our duty,” he said.

David Cook of Copperas Cove was another biker at the rally.

“I think what we’re doing is great for the officers, to let them know we don’t feel they’re all bad,” he said. “There is always going to be a bad apple in there somewhere.”