“Are we there yet?” That’s what Fair Haven Police Cpl. John Waltz was likely chanting on Friday as he feverishly rode his bike on the last, probably sore, leg of his journey in the Police Unity Tour. Destination: the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The trek is not new to Walsh. He’s done it before — and with pride and pleasure. But, this year, he is the only officer from the Rumson-Fair Haven area riding, with, perhaps the exception of former Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge, who is riding with the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department this year.
“Mustering up (that last bit of energy),” Walsh said early Friday afternoon as he arrived in D.C.
It was another “ride for those who died” that culminated successfully at the Memorial destination — a poignant reminder of why these law enforcement officers band together to take the ride each year since 1997.
“The primary purpose of the Police Unity Tour is to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty,” the Police Unity Tour website explains. “The secondary purpose is to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum.”
Last year, $2,500,000 was raised on the Tour with 2,200 members, the website statistics show. The numbers for this year are not in yet. Waltz’s have not yet been tallied.
Dedicated on October 15, 1991, the Memorial “honors federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation and its people.” It has more than 20,000 names etched on it dating back to the late 1700s.
Waltz was riding for 28-year-old Greenville, South Carolina Officer Allen Jacobs. The officer was fatally shot in the line of duty in March of last year by an admitted 17-year-old gang member who shot him several times before fleeing the scene.
According to a CNN report, Deontea Mackey, the gang member, ended up killing himself. He had been approached by Jacobs to be interviewed regarding a weapon purchase.
He fled, led he officers on a chase and then took cover behind a house and opened fire, killing Jacobs.
Waltz was honored to ride for him. And, while there were some not-so-fair-weather bumps along the way, he says he wouldn’t have missed it.
He shared his trek with Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect. Here’s how the past few days went:
Day 1, May 9, from Mercer County Police Academy to Atlantic City …
“Team Monmouth County and the rest of the riders from Chapter 10 & 13 took on 81.66 miles today. Lil sore and tired but looking forward to another great ride tomorrow. Thanks all for the support.”
Day 3, May 10, from Annapolis, MD
“I’m using the same post I used last year cause it’s like ground hog day.
“Day 3 complete. All chapters and teams safe and sound after arrival in Annapolis. Nasty rain and cold temps didn’t stop us. One final push tomorrow towards our goal to honor our fallen heroes.”
Day 4, the last leg to D.C. …
This was the last word Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect got from Waltz. He has arrived with the others safely. Photos and an accounting of that final day and the candlelight vigil that will follow will be shared on Monday.
— Elaine Van Develde
— Photos/John Waltz and Ralph T. Godwin