The four-day Police Unity Tour set off yesterday honoring, and raising awareness of, all the law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
The tour to mark Police Week traveled through New Jersey yesterday, stopping in Linden and Woodbridge, where officers held a memorial for Perth Amboy Officer Thomas E. Raji, who died in the line of duty 10 years ago.
Lt. Christopher Robateau, who was fatally struck on the New Jersey Turnpike earlier this year, was also honored in a ceremony yesterday morning.
The tour, consisting of hundreds of bicyclists, continues through Wilmington, Del., and Annapolis, Md., before arriving in Washington on May 12. The Police Unity Tour was started in 1997 with just 18 riders to raise public awareness of fallen officers. Last year’s tour saw 2,500 riders nationwide make the trip, and it raised $2.6 million for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, bringing total donations to $23 million.
During Police Week, tens of thousands of officers from around the world come to Washington to participate in a series of planned events to commemorate the lives of officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Police Week falls around Peace Officers Memorial Day, which was designated May 15 by President Kennedy in 1962. National Police Week now draws around 25,000 to 40,000 attendees from departments throughout the United States as well as from agencies throughout the world.
Some of the events taking place in National Police Week include the 1st Annual Police K-9 Memorial Service on May 11. On May 12, the Police Unity Tour Arrival Ceremony will take place, along with the National Police Week 5k. On May 13, the 30th Annual Candlelight Vigil will take place at the National Mall.
On May 14 and 16, there will be a two-day conference at which families and co-workers will have opportunities to receive support to understand grief, prepare for trial, learn new coping skills, and build connections with others. The 37th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service will take place on May 15 at 11 a.m.
In 2005, the Police Unity Tour pledged $5 million to the National Law Enforcement Museum, and it is now the sponsor of the museum’s Hall of Remembrance. In 2016, the entrance to the National Law Enforcement Officers Museum was also named in honor of the Police Unity Tour to further raise and enhance public awareness of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
As the Police Unity Tour and National Police Week get underway, the FBI has released statistics revealing that 93 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year.
Find out more about the Police Unity Tour and how to get involved here.
Find out more about National Police Week and see full details of all the events taking place in Washington here.