EAST HANOVER, NJ - Fairfield Sgt. Frank Tracey and Detective Ian Rasmussen once again traveled more than 300 miles by bicycle as part of the 2018 Police Unity Tour. This year's tour was a four-day bicycle ride that began in East Hanover and ended at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty and honor their sacrifices.
The proceeds from the tour go to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum.
"Even though the bicycle ride was very uncomfortable, nothing could compare to the emotions you feel at the finish when you are riding up to the Memorial," said Rasmussen. "It is such a great feeling hearing all the supporters cheering you on and receiving high-fives from the crowd. You know at that moment that you would do it all again.
"We had some fantastic weather this year—no rain, it was just very hot, over 90, when we arrived in D.C. Last year on day three it rained all day and it was cold. Everyone was borderline hypothermic."
Rassmussen said that the main reason he and Tracey endure the 300 mile ride each year is that it has become a mission for both of them. The physical suffering on this ride helps to honor those officers who have died in the line of duty, he said, because being tired and uncomfortable makes them think about how the fallen officers would give anything to switch places with them.
"The Police Unity Tour allows us to honor our fellows officers that gave their lives to this line of work and for me I need that in my life," said Rassmussen.
The motto of the Police Unity Tour is "We ride for those who died," and Chief Anthony Manna shared that this motto hit especially close to home this year for the two participants and the Fairfield Police Department.
Tracey said he rode in honor of Sgt. Christopher Vidro, whom he knew personally from attending the academy together. Vidro, whose service ended on July 25, 2007, worked for the Montclair State University Police Department, and responded to New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. He later became sick and developed cancer directly related to his time in New York City.
Tracey also rode for Officer Justin Michael Terney, who was involved in a foot pursuit of a subject who ran from a traffic stop. Terney attempted to subdue the suspect with his taser, which had no effect on the man. The subject then drew a weapon and shot officer Terney several times. Terney was able to return fire and struck the suspect several times, but he did not survive his own injuries, and his service ended on March 27, 2017.
Rasmussen rode for Deputy Sheriff Zackari Spurlock Parrish III (end of watch Dec. 31, 2017). Parrish was shot and killed while trying to speak with a man who had barricaded himself inside a bedroom. The man eventually opened fire through the door and struck four officers. The suspect fired more than 100 rounds during the incident, and Parrish did not survive.
Rasmussen also rode for Officer Martin Hanly (end of watch July 24, 1927). Hanly was killed in a motorcycle accident while pursuing a fleeing vehicle. Another vehicle pulled in front of him at an intersection, where the two crashed and the fleeing vehicle did not stop. Hanly, who was the great grandfather of Fairfield Sgt. John McNish, died from his injuries.
This is Tracey's fourth unity tour trip and Rasmussen's second. The two collectively raised approximately $5,550 toward the cause.
The Fairfield Police Department extended its gratitude to all those who sponsored the officers. To donate to the 2018 Police Unity Tour, click HERE.