From South Orange Police Sgt. Adrian Acevedo who participated in the Policy Unity Tour May 9-12, 2016:
The Police Unity Tour started 20 years ago with just 18 riders. They wanted to do something outrageous like cycle from northern Jersey to Washington, DC to bring attention to the dangers facing police officers.
That first year, they rode into the National Memorial and presented a check for $18,000; the idea was to help with the upkeep of the memorial as well as to help families of fallen officers.
The ride takes four days and covers 300 miles. Each participant, whether rider or support crew, raises a set amount of money. The ride is open to active or retired officers as well as family members of those killed in the line of duty.
We have riders from all across the county and from abroad. We’ve had riders form India, Australia, London, Italy and more. This year we rolled into DC with 2,000 riders and presented a check for $2.3 Million. The wall at the memorial has over 20 thousand names on it and, this year, 250 were added.
My first year doing the ride was in 2005 and I have participated ever since (with the exception of one year in which I was injured, hit by a car while on duty and extremely lucky to not have ended up on that wall).
Every year, I pick an officer, killed the previous year, and ride in his honor. I meet his/her family in DC. I’ve been a ride marshall for a number of years, helping new riders, conducting training rides and helping to make sure they make the four-day trip as safely as possible.
Unfortunately, this year was marked by tragedy when retired Lt. Joe Franklin of Roxbury, NJ succumbed to injuries sustained from a crash on day 1. The ride immediately became more somber and quite emotional, but, for me, it turned out to be one the most important rides in my 11 years with the tour.
On our third night, an officer from Roxbury, Silvio Valdes, drove to Annapolis, Maryland to meet us. He wanted to ride the rest of the way, in honor of Joe. I was given the task of making sure he made it that last day, from Annapolis to DC and to lead the 2,000 riders into the memorial with him by my side.
Some of my long-time sponsors have been [Village President] Sheena Collum, Leslie Pogany of Bunny’s Restaurant and Modern Auto Body. I’m especially appreciative of Claudine Baptiste and John Amato of BCB Community Bank, they have been my biggest single donation sponsor ever.
This year, I will be taking part in an amazing effort to bring the message of the Police Unity Tour to Israel. I’m astounded to have been given this opportunity. About 40 riders have been chosen to participate; working with Israeli Police, we will travel to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We will ride there, alongside our brother officers, in solidarity for their fallen.
Click on photos to enlarge. Photos appear courtesy of Sgt. Adrian Acevedo: