Other NJ News

Long Blue Line of Police Cyclists Stretches Through Somerville; Police Unity Tour Heads to Nation’s Capital to Honor Fallen Officers

61c3907720a812809716_sompixunitytour2017vitowaves.JPG
Somerville police officer Vito Spadea, on bike at left, waves to Somerville Police Chief Dennis Manning and other police officers watching the Unity Tour pass through the borough. Credits: Rod Hirsch
f9f4542e241e2ce74e25_sompixunitytour2017group.JPG
Police cyclists pedal through Somerville on their way to Washington, DC Credits: Rod Hirsch
2a768544fc3142bb7b87_sompixunitytour2017copterflag.JPG
A State Police helicopter flies overhead as police cyclists pass beneath an American flag draped on a Somerville Fire Department truck's extension ladder. Credits: Rod Hirsch
1e02f5f0aa2a1f5c7501_sompixunitytour2017helmetflags.JPG
A police officer's helmet is decorated with flags and medallions. Credits: Rod Hirsch
245d360eda94eb357472_sompixunitytour2017photo.JPG
A police cyclists takes pictures of the crowd as he pedals through Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
6ee0fe57281c09585f50_sompixunitytour2017signs.JPG
Signs of support for their police offices were spotted in yesterday's crowd along Main Street in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
61c3907720a812809716_sompixunitytour2017vitowaves.JPG

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Borough police officer Vitorio Spadea, along with hundreds of police officers from scores of police agencies throughout New Jersey rode into town Tuesday, May 9 on their way to Washington, DC where they will join with police from across the country to honor their brothers killed in the line of duty.

Spadea normally rides with fellow Somerville police officer Tim Franks who was unable to ride this year as he is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in a PBA flag football game a few months ago. 

The four-day Police Unity Tour is commemorating its 21th anniversary May 9-12, with police from around the country converging on the nation’s capital to pay tribute to the slain officers and the families left behind.

Sign Up for E-News

The fifth day, May 13th, will be filled by a candlelight vigil and ceremonies at the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum.

“It’s all about honoring those whose families are now suffering from the loss of their loved ones,” Spadea said.

The 2,000 riders nationwide will help to heighten awareness of the dangers and hazards faced by law enforcement officers, honor those who have died in the line of duty and raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum.

Both Spadea and Franks have participated in the Unity Tour in past years.

Spadea credits Franks for getting him involved with the race, as well as Bridgewater police officer Arthur Akins, a resident of Somerville described by Spadea as a good friend.

Franks said fellow mountain bike instructors at the county police academy urged him to participate for several years, but there was always an excuse.

“I’m too busy, I don’t have time, you know,” Franks said.

That changed when Claude Racine, one of his fellow Somerville police officers died just before the race four years ago. Racine had ridden in the Unity Tour and had planned to ride that year.

Franks knew he had to ride to honor the memory of Racine.

“That’s all the motivation I needed,” Franks said.

Spadea watched as Franks rode through town that year.

“I saw him coming through town and it got real emotional watching him and those guys ride through town; I said to myself ‘I’ve got to do this next year.’ ‘’

Franks added, “It’s a real rush, you appreciate the people being out there, it shows there is still a lot of support for police officers.”

In keeping with tradition, Spadea will dedicate his 300-mile trek to fallen police officers, including two from Somerville that were killed in the line of duty 100 years ago.

A memorial erected by Somerville PBA #147 alongside the doorway into police headquarters  memorializes Officer Manning T. Crow, shot after confronting three burglars in a butcher shop on South Street in 1899 and Officer Julius Sauer who was shot by a man threatening suicide in 1917. After shooting Sauer, the man killed himself.

Spadea will also dedicate his ride to two other fallen officers, each of whom he knew.

Spadea will be riding to honor his friend and fallen Watchung police officer Matthew Melchionda, killed in a North Plainfield collision in 2006 when responding to back up undercover officers at a traffic stop, as well as state Trooper Scott Gonzalez, killed in Warren County when responding to a domestic dispute in 1997. Spadea said he knew the trooper when he was growing up.

 Finally, Spadea will quietly honor Racine.

Spadea will be riding the same bicycle Racine had ridden on the Unity Tour. His widow gifted the bike to Spadea.

She told me ‘I still have Claude’s bicycle he rode to DC I think maybe someone would want it.’

“I told her ‘I would love to have the bike,’ ’’ he said.

“It’s in honor of him because he rode the bike and he worked for us,” Spadea said. “Riding his bicycle down, for me, I consider that he is riding with me; we’re riding down together.”

Students at Immaculata High School and Immaculate Conception Schools came outside to cheer on the cyclists as they ride down Mountain Avenue before heading east on Main Street. The cyclists passed beneath a huge American flag attached to a Somerville Fire Department truck’s extension ladder hung over East Main Street.

The riders headed east down Route 28 past VanderVeer School,  onto Finderne Avenue into Manville and on to Weston Canal Road to connect with Davidson Avenue in Franklin, where they will spend the night at area hotels before heading out Wednesday, May 10.

 By the end of Day Two, the cyclists will reach Philadelphia; Day 3, May 11, the destination is Baltimore.  They will arrive in Washington on May 12, Day 4 and converge at RFK Stadium before riding to the police memorial.

“Riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with the US Capitol in front of you, with 2,000 other bicyclists, police car and motorcycle escorts, everybody stopping, watching and waving, it’s incredible,” Franks said.

“I’m not a svelte guy; it takes a lot to finish those 300 miles,” Franks added. “Towards the end a lot of the guys are running out of steam but there’s hundreds of other behind them cheering them on reminding them why they’re riding.

“The guys suck it up; they might not be able to walk for a week afterwards, but it’s all in good humor and for a good reason,” he added.

The ceremony at the law enforcement memorial is a moving tribute to the families of officers killed in the line of duty, according to Spadea and Franks.

They are escorted to their seats one-by-one as the officers salute them. The name of each fallen officer is read off.

“Some guys just can’t handle it, it’s rough, real emotional,” Franks said.

The Police Unity Tour was organized by Officer Patrick P. Montuore of the Florham Park Police Department in May, 1997.

Since then, the annual event has raised over $20 million.

Last year the police cyclists raised $2.5 million.

-         In late 2005, the Police Unity Tour pledged $5 Million in support of the National Law Enforcement Museum.

-         Having completed the $5 Million commitment to the Museum in 2009 the Police Unity Tour dedicated the 2010 ride to the restoration of the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The $1.1 million restoration project included the re-engraving, coating and sealing of the 18,983 names on the memorial as well as the cleaning of the walls and other memorial improvements.

-         In 2011 the Police Unity Tour became the official sponsor of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s “Officer of the Month Program.” Officers of the Month are honored at a special awards luncheon each May in Washington, DC during National Police Week, and they are featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar. The Police Unity Tour is also proud to sponsor the NLEOMF’s “Recently Fallen Alerts.”

Each cyclist must raise $1,850 to participate in the Unity Tour, according to Spadea, who has raised over $2,000. Some of that money pays for each cyclist’s hotel, food and other related expenses. What’s not spent is donated to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.

Spadea worked with students at Somerville High School to design a limited-edition brass and enamel medallion.  He sold 300 medallions to raise over $3,000.

“The idea is to spread awareness,” Spadea explained. “It would be easy to ask my PBA to sponsor me for the ride, but by me asking for single contributions it helps get people to know about the ride, what it is about and have them help out.

“They’re doing their part to honor a fallen police officer,” Spadea said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Sparta

Sparta Police: Speeding Stop Nets Drug Charges for Two Brooklyn Men

June 19, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Two men from Brooklyn, New York stopped for speeding are facing drug charges.  On June 16 around 11 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over a grey Toyota Rav4 driven by David Mai, 20 going 95 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, police said.

When Herd spoke with the Mai, the officer smelled marijuana in the car. Mai said he had pot in his backpack.  Sparta Police ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Sparta Man Stopped for Speeding

SPARTA, NJ — A Sparta resident was picked up on an active warrant after getting stopped for speeding on Route 181. On June 16 around 1:35 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped John Clark, 51 in his black Ford pickup driving 60 in a 45 MPH zone, police report.

Clark was not able to show the officer his license but gave his personal information. Rubino found Clark’s license had expired and ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Man Picked Up in Speeding Stop, Gets Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ — A Newark man was picked up when the car in which he was riding was stopped for speeding. On June 8 around 11:50 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over Tashiana Martin, 27, of West Orange for speeding, police report.

When Herd spoke with Martin he smelled marijuana in the car. Herd also saw that passenger Ibenabdul Harden, 28, was not wearing a seat belt. When the ...

The Power of Positive Engagement

June 17, 2018

To the Editor:

I wanted to share this letter from Laurie Beacham, Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, about the notable increase in voter turnout and citizens deciding to run in the recent primary election:

"The 11th Congressional District has a lot to be proud of. In the June 5th primaries, voter turnout climbed from almost 33,000 in 2014 to over 86,000. Democratic ...

Again, Oroho, Space and Wirths Get It Wrong

On Wednesday, June 13th, a series of gun violence prevention bills were signed into law by Governor Murphy. These bills will strengthen our already strong gun laws in New Jersey and none of these new laws infringe on anyone’s right to keep and bear arms.   

Unfortunately, Senator Oroho and Assemblymen, Space and Wirths our Legislative District 24 representatives voted NO to a ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 2:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Summer Afternoon Garden Soiree

Home & Garden

Carousel_image_6f4ecc7e007a7b295623_farmers_market

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River

Education

Carousel_image_a567a59640ee87a05151_boe_sign__2_

Mon, June 25, 5:30 PM

Mohawk Avenue School, Sparta

Sparta Board of Education Meeting UPDATED

Education

Carousel_image_6f4ecc7e007a7b295623_farmers_market

Sat, June 30, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Carousel_image_6f4ecc7e007a7b295623_farmers_market

Sat, July 7, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Carousel_image_ace2e0a21a0268782288_sparta_historical_society

Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Home & Garden

Carousel_image_dc175377b12fc03a60a8_toni4

Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_6f4ecc7e007a7b295623_farmers_market

Sat, July 14, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sussex Stags Football Team to Hold Fourth Annual Golf Outing

June 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The Sussex County Stags will be holding their fourth annual gold outing on Saturday June 23.

Arrival time is 11:30 a.m. at the Minebrook Golf Club located at 500 Schooleys Mountain Road in Hackettstown. Golfing will begin at 1 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at www.sussexstags.com.

Tickets are $125 per person and include the following: golfing, the cart, an all you ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

June 15, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...

Why Buying a Home is Better Than Renting

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home in New Jersey, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, Team Nest Builder wants to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. This graph from their report shows rent increases from 1988 ...

5 Fab Father's Day Happenings in Sussex & Morris Counties

Father’s Day hits this Sunday--what do YOU have planned? Team Nest Builder offers a slew of Father’s Day fun in Morris and Sussex County. Read on and surprise Dad with cool activities! (Be sure to check if registration is required prior to showing up!)

Alstede Farms' Father's Day Brunch – Chester

From 9am-noon, take a scenic hayride to a brunch buffet that offers ...

Don't Miss Sunday's OPEN HOUSE for 4BR Sparta Mountain Beauty

Perched handsomely on an acre in the beautiful SpartaMountain community, 28 Waters Edgeoffers a 4BR 2.5 Bathroom home with space and style. Come see for yourself this Sunday, June 17th, from 1-3pm at our OPEN HOUSE!

Located in the prestigious Sparta Mountain Reserve, this large, beautiful center hall colonial with open floor plan has a nice, level play yard with direct ...

Days on The Housing Market Drops to New Low

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes remained on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, opined,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this ...

Pass It Along Triathlon

Tri-something new this July and sign up for the Pass It Along Triathlon!

The 9th annual Pass It Along Triathlon will take place on Saturday, July 28, 2018, at the Lake Mohawk Country Club. This triathlon features two USAT-certified courses - Olympic and Sprint. This triathlon has become a Sparta tradition and everyone is welcome to attend to cheer on athletes and be a part of the ...

Welcome to the Pass It Along Column!

This is the first in a weekly series of columns which will focus on news, events, announcements, and opportunities from Pass It Along. Please check back next week to see what’s happening!

Welcome to Pass It Along's TAPinto column! We are so excited to partner with TAPinto Sparta to share news, highlights and opportunities with you to get involved with Pass It Along!

What is ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting

NEWTON, NJ - The June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting video.

 

Summer Hockey Programs at Skylands: 3v3, U8 and Beginner Hockey Camp

June 19, 2018

Skylands U8 Cross Ice Challenge League

Skylands Cross Ice Challenge League is an intermediate league for kids ages 8 and under. Emphasis on fun, skill progression, and player development, it de-emphasizes stressful, high-pressure, game scenarios and ultra-competitive play. It's focus is more on individual skating, player skills & puck touches
One practice per week ...