On Sept. 9, for the second year in a row, two Aquidneck Island police officers will bring a national event to a local level.
Every May, thousands of police officers sweat through the 300-mile, four day, Police Unity Tour, which is a bicycle ride from Florham Park, N.J. to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event honors police officers who fell in the line of duty.
Although that ride is only open to police officers, Lt. Mike Faria of the Middletown Police Department and Officer Joe Carroll of Newport, have organized a motorcycle ride that joins civilians and officers together, to raise awareness and money for the cause right here in Rhode Island.
“Everyone is welcome,” said Faria.
The ride will start out in the parking lot Scotty's Big Dawg's Restaurant and Pub in Middletown at 10 a.m. on Sunday Sept. 9 and will go through Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton and return at Big Dawg’s around 1:00 p.m. The ride is open to the public and since it will remain in Rhode Island, helmets are optional.
Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. on the day of the event and is $20 per rider. There will be food and festivities after the ride. As part of the post-ride events, there will also be a tribute to the victims of Sept. 11, said Faria.
The money raised at the event will help cover the expenses of the families of fallen officers, so they may travel to Washington D.C. to honor their loved ones at this May.
Come May, officers across the country will take on the challenge the four day ride, but Carroll said the commitment to honor fellow officers who made the ultimate sacrifice keeps him going. He wears a bracelet of a fallen officer to remind him of the ride’s mission and once he arrives in Washington D.C., he gives it to the family of the officer, he said.
“I press on, thinking about what that officer’s last breath was like,” said Carroll.
During last year’s ride, Carroll demonstrated that his commitment to his colleagues perseveres through even excruciating physical pain. Despite a crash with a fellow cyclist that broke his ribs, Carroll got back on his bike to finish his fifth Police Unity ride.
Middletown has a strong connection to the cause. In 2005, Middletown native, Brian Jackson, was shot and killed in the line of duty as an officer in Texas. The 28 year-old responded to a domestic disturbance call and the suspect opened fire on Jackson during a foot pursuit.
“People don’t realize police officers risk their lives everyday,” said Faria. He said that is why events such as this ride are important for the community to pay tribute those men and women who died doing their jobs and serving their community.
For more information about the ride in September, or to pledge a donation, email Newport Officer Joe Carroll at email@example.com