NEW YORK, N.Y. -- When it comes to unity, there may be no more shining example than the men and women we trust to protect us every day. In funeral after funeral this year alone, they came out in numbers to honor their fallen brothers and sisters. And today, up to 700 police officers will start bicycling hundreds of miles over the next few days to remember the hundreds who paid with their lives for your safety. The Police Unity Tour kicked off this morning.
Here are just a handful of stories of fallen officers they will ride in memory of over the week.
NYC Police Officer Alain Schaberger gave his life trying to save another. It was at a routine domestic violence call in March, when he tried to apprehend a suspect, who shoved him over a Boerum Hill, Brooklyn railing. The groom-to-be fell 9-feet to his death.
Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf died in Massapequa Park that same weekend, amidst controversial friendly fire. He had responded to the scene of an emotionally deranged person, when somehow an MTA cop shot and killed him.
In February, Nassau County Police Officer Michael Califano was patrolling the Long Island Expressway, when a Connecticut truck driver slammed into his police cruiser in Old Westbury, killing him. He was a 12-year-veteran, and a married father with 3 children.
Eighteen-year veteran of the Poughkeepsie Police force, Officer John Falcone was shot to death in February after a struggle with a deranged man at the Metro-North train station. The man had just shot his wife to death and was running away with his 3-year-old child, when Falcone entered the chaos. The man shot Falcone and himself. The child survived.
Lakewood, NJ Police Officer Christopher Matlosz was shot by a cop-killer in an execution-style shooting in January. He was 27-years-old. He was engaged to be married.
Trooper Kevin Dobson also died this year, as did Corrections Officer Casimiro Pomales. The Police Unity Tour raises awareness and money for the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial and Museum.
It started in 1997 with just 18 riders. It's now gone national and last year, more than 1,200 officers rode. Since its existence, it's raised more than $8 million.
Officers will ride for the next four days, and cover 300 miles. On Friday, they will arrive in Washington, D.C. where a candlelight vigil will be held.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service