To help raise awareness for officers who have died in the line of duty, the Cranbury Police Department participated in the Police Unity Tour.
The Police Unity Tour is a fundraising bicycle ride from New Jersey to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C., according to tour officials.
“We ride for those who died,” Lt. Michael Owens said. “It is a special event for us to be able to dedicate our time to. We are going to reflect on those who put their uniforms day in and day out, like all of us do and we will remember those that did not make it home that day.”
Owens and Officer Rob Giaccone were the two riders from the department participating in the 2019 tour. They were joined by support riders Sgt. Doug Mayer and Officer Jeff Morley.
“They said they wanted to ride and I said go for it. I support these guys,” Officer Michael Cipriano, President of the Cranbury Fraternal Order of Police. “Mayer and Morley help with all the equipment, luggage, room accommodations, and basically all the logistics.”
This is the second consecutive year the department has participated in the tour.
“I had the opportunity to ride last year in the tour. It was a fantastic experience,” Giaccone said. “We leave out of Philly and ride all the way down to Washington D.C. Just to see the towns you ride through and the support the people show out there is great. There are firehouses hanging 100 foot American flags, bagpipes being played and entire elementary schools letting classes come out to the curb and high five everybody is nice.”
On May 8, at around 3 p.m. the riders and support group left to join with chapter out of the Police Unity Tour from Delaware at a hotel around the Philadelphia International Airport. The following morning the whole group rode from there to get to their destination in Washington D.C., according to Giaccone.
The ride took place from May 9 to May 12, while a candle light evening vigil was held on May 13 to honor the fallen, according to the department.
To participate in the tour, the department had to reach several fundraising goals.
“We had a wine and beer tasting fundraiser back in March that helped raise a tremendous amount of money for us to send the guys to the tour,” Cipriano said.
According to Owens, they were required to raise $2,000 per rider and support group.
The funds that were raised will go towards the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum, tour officials said.
The memorial has the names listed of officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and is located on E Street in Washington D.C.
Owens said he has been training for the tour by doing long distances rides for the past three months.
“I have been riding three times a week or every other day to keep my mileage up,” he said.
Giaccone said he and Owens will have been riding 70-80 miles a day.
“They do about a 20-25-mile leg. So you will ride from one point to let’s say a firehouse somewhere and have a memorial somewhere maybe for an officer that was killed in that area. This is definitely pretty intense,” he said.
The department will also be riding in honor of Kristin Marie Pataki of the Maryland-National Capital Police, who passed away on May 4, 2002.
Department officials said they plan to continue to participate in the years to come.
“As soon as the guys get back we will be planning on next year’s participation,” Cipriano said