2011-03-16 / Front Page

Officers from two towns will ride to Washington

Police from Marlboro and Freehold Borough to honor fallen brothers

FREEHOLD — Five Freehold Borough police officers will join with 15 Marlboro police officers in a 300-mile bicycle ride to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness for officers who have died in the line of duty and to help raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum.

This is the first time the Freehold Borough Police Department will be participating in the Police Unity Tour.

Representing Freehold Borough PBA Local 159 will be Sgt. Michael Sweetman, Patrolman Eduardo Santana, Patrolwoman Zandra Vega, Patrolman Diego Flores and Detective John Reiff.

They will join with 15 officers from the Marlboro Police Department on May 9 at 7 a.m. to start the bicycle ride that will take them to the memorial.

The 20 officers will ride to Mays Landing to meet the rest of the officers who are participating in Chapter 2 of the tour and begin the four-day ride to Washington, D.C., where they will meet more than 1,000 of their fellow law enforcement officers.

The trip will culminate on May 13 with a candlelight vigil for the fallen officers at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Representing Marlboro PBA Local 196 will be Lt. Fred Reck, Lt. Joseph Tomazic, Sgt. Nicholas Szymanski, Detective John Bise, Patrolman Gerald Arminio, Patrolman Greg Aronne, Patrolman James Caulfield, Patrolman Andrew Goldberg, Patrolman Brian Hammarstrom, Patrol Officer Donna Gonzalez, Patrolman Eric Hayes, Patrolman Joshua Layman, Patrolman David Taglietta, Dispatcher Paul Lorenz, and Dispatcher Zach Steinfeld.

Lt. Paul Reed will ride a police motorcycle with Chapter 1 of the Police Unity Tour.

Sweetman said the ride, which began in 1997, was created to maintain the National Law Enforcement Memorial that honors officers who have died in the line of duty, and to provide funds for the police museum.

“It’s not just about the funds for the memorial,” Sweetman said. “The ride is also to let the families of these (fallen) officers know they have not been forgotten. It’s important to us that the survivors know their loved ones are not forgotten.”

Each participant in the Police Unity Tour is responsible for raising $1,650. Of that amount, $1,000 will go to the memorial and the remaining money will be used to pay for food and lodging.

The participants also need to purchase uniforms at a cost of $300, as well as a $1,000 bicycle that can withstand the ride.

To help offset the cost of participating in the Police Unity Tour, the officers will host a fundraising sports memorabilia gala at the American Hotel, Freehold, on March 26. The community is invited to attend the event.

Sweetman said Santana was going to take part in the event by himself, but other officers were offered the chance to ride and they responded. Santana is a certified bicycle trainer who teachers new officers to ride the bicycle patrol in town.

Santana said bicycling is his passion and he wanted to use that passion for a good cause — to raise funds for the memorial to the fallen police officers.

Syzmanski, from Marlboro, said this is the third Police Unity Tour in which he will participate. He said the riders will stop at several locations where police officers have died and conduct a short memorial service at each site.

On May 9 the riders will stop on Interstate 195 in Howell where New Jersey State Police Trooper Marc Castellano was killed in 2010.

They will also stop in Lakewood where Lakewood Patrolman Chris Matlosz was killed on Jan. 15 and where Lakewood Patrolman William Preslar was killed five years ago in an auto crash.

They will also stop in Manchester to pay tribute to Patrolman Robert Tobias, who was also killed in the line of duty.

The riders will have a memorial stop in Jackson for Jackson Police Officer Robert Ventura, who was killed in a motor vehicle crash in 2002.

OnMay 13 the officers will attend a candlelight vigil at sunset in RFK Stadium where the names of the fallen officers will be read and a ceremony to honor the newly inscribed officers’ names will be held.

The officers will ride an average of 80 miles per day on the four-day trip.

The Marlboro Police Department is providing support vehicles, including a trailer for food, supplies and gear, and a 15-passenger van, for the 20 officers who will travel the entire route. An ambulance from will follow the group to handle any medical emergencies and a truck from the Tuckahoe Bike Shop will be provided to handle emergency bicycle repairs.

The Freehold and Marlboro police officers are asking the community for donations of bottled water, energy drinks like Gatorade, protein bars, energy bars or protein snacks. Donations of these items may be dropped off at the Marlboro Police Department in the Marlboro municipal complex, Wyncrest Road, Marlboro, or at the Freehold Borough Police Department in the Rug Mill Towers, Jackson Street, Freehold.

When Sweetman, of Freehold Borough, was asked why he is taking part in the 2011 Police Unity Tour, he said he thought it was “a noble thing to do.”

He summed up the sentiments of many of his fellow police bicycle riders when he said he felt very fortunate to be able to participate in the ride for the fallen officers who are no longer here.

For additional information or to donate to the Police Unity Tour, call 732-740-4879.

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