OAKLAND -- More than 100 Oakland police officers from veterans to recruits, and civilian employees, the largest number ever to participate, hit the ground running Tuesday morning to raise money for one of the department's favorite charities -- Special Olympics Northern California.

Led by Chief Sean Whent, the runners, took the torch handoff from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office team at 8:45 a.m. at police headquarters at Seventh Street and Broadway for their portion of the annual event.

They ran more than three miles to 40th and Adeline streets in North Oakland where they handed the torch to Emeryville police. The torch was going to be passed off to several police agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

It was the 26th year of participation for Oakland police in the Law Enforcement Torch Run that benefits the Special Olympics. Oakland police are the top fundraising agency in Northern California and have the most participants, Special Olympics officials said. Before Tuesday, Oakland police had raised almost $35,000 for the Olympics so far this year.

Whent, who has participated in several previous runs, said, "This is a great event. It's a good cause, great exercise, it's just wonderful all around."

Lt. Roland Holmgren said the department is glad to support Special Olympics.

"It teaches the value of teamwork, the value of being tenacious and it's a platform for where they can express themselves through sports."


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Jeff Henson, vice president, business development and special events for the Special Olympics Northern California, said they are grateful for the police department's participation. "They are always extremely supportive of whatever event we have to support the athletes."

More than 700 adults and children with intellectual disabilities will compete in the Olympics, which will be Saturday and Sunday at UC Davis.