MILLTOWN, NJ - The 2017 Police Unity Tour is set for its annual ride in May, and Team Milltown will again be participating in the bike tour that honors the lives and sacrifices of police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

This year will mark the 21st ride, which has officers from across the nation traveling to Washington, D.C. on bicycles. All the riders will meet at the National Law Enforcement Memorial on Friday, May 12 at 2 p.m. Team Milltown will be a part of Chapter 1, which will leave New Jersey on May 9. Chapters come from as far away as California.

In May of 1997, the inaugural Police Unity Tour was started by Officer Patrick P. Montoure of the Florham Park Police Department. Montoure’s hope was to bring attention to the police officers who had lost their lives in the line of duty and to recognize as well as honor their sacrifices.

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In order to participate in the ride, the officers making up Team Milltown must raise $1800 per person. The officers and dispatchers accomplish their goal by organizing fundraisers throughout the year for a ride that is near and dear to their hearts. All of the money raised by the officers participating in the Police Unity Tour goes to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.

Team Milltown will be hosting Celebrity Bartender Night on Saturday February 11 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the American Legion Post 25 on JFK Drive. Bartenders will include police chiefs and officers from different agencies as well as New Jersey PBA President, Patrick Colligan. Tickets are $30 per person. All of the proceeds from the event will go toward funding Team Milltown's ride. The evening will include a premium open bar, food, beer and wine. DJ entertainment will be provided by Chris Mo. There will be a 50/50 raffle as well. Tickets can be purchased at the Milltown Boro Hall at 39 Washington Avenue. They will be available at the door on the night of the event as well.

“We ride for those who have died,” Sergeant Chris Witt said prior to last year's Police Unity Tour. “It is a great experience and one of the cooler things that I’ve done in a long time.”

The first known officer who lost his life in the line of duty was in 1791. Sheriff Cornelius Hogeboom was from Hudson, New York. Hogeboom was shot and killed when he was in the process of serving a writ of ejectment. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website, more than 20,000 police officers in the United States alone “have made the ultimate sacrifice.” In 2016, the number exceeded 2015. One hundred twenty-three officers died in the line of duty in 2015. Last year, 140 officers lost their lives. Texas had the highest number of officer deaths with 19. New Jersey had three.