It seemed as if the line of blue-uniformed bicyclists would never end. Two-by-two, they cycled up E Street, NW, into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Tuesday afternoon to the rousing applause of family members, friends and supporters—the final leg of what had been days of cycling over hundreds of miles in honor of their fallen law enforcement colleagues.
Approximately 1,200 officers participated in this year’s Police Unity Tour. Their mission, as always: to raise awareness of officers killed in the line of duty and to raise money for the Memorial Fund and the Hall of Remembrance in the National Law Enforcement Museum. They certainly delivered on both accounts this year.
As they rode past the United States Capitol toward the Memorial under brilliant blue skies, the Police Unity Tour was impossible to miss. And when all was said and done, Unity Tour President Pat Montuore, chief of the Florham Park (NJ) Police Department, and Executive Director Harry Phillips presented the Memorial Fund with a check for more than $1.3 million—the largest annual total ever. It brought the Unity Tour’s total donation to the NLEOMF over the past 13 years to nearly $7 million.
With a motto of “We Ride for Those Who Died,” every member of the Police Unity Tour rides for a fallen officer.
Forty-three members of the Fairfax County (VA) Police Department—including first-time rider Dave Rohrer, their chief, and Captain Cindy McAlister—rode in honor of three members of their agency: Detective Vicky Armel and Master Police Officer Michael Garbarino, who were fatally shot three years ago outside the Sully District Station that Captain McAlister commands, and Lieutenant Frank Stucco, who died in a training accident last October.
Officer Scott High of the Rockaway Borough (NJ) Police Department remembered his father during this year’s ride, a Rockaway Township officer who died in 2004 from non-duty related causes. Scott handed out 1,000 small American flags along the way from New Jersey so that young people would have a more positive attitude toward law enforcement.
Miriam Fernandez, mother of fallen Hollywood (FL) Officer Alex Del Rio, didn’t cycle in the tour, but she was at both the New Jersey kickoff and today’s ceremony, at the invitation of Jim Manley of the NYPD, who was riding for Officer Del Rio. Though her son died just six months ago, she has already established a foundation in Alex’s name to help the children of south Florida.
Officer John Jorgenson of the Roseville (MN) Police Department said he was thrilled to be riding in his third consecutive Unity Tour – and not having his fellow officers ride for him. Last December, he was shot and seriously wounded as he led a regional SWAT team on a high-risk entry. He has undergone seven surgeries on his wrist and hand, and eighth one is scheduled. But having some bullet fragments still in his hand would not deter Jorgy from honoring three officers whose memory bracelets he wore throughout the ride.