For the last 10 years, police officers on the National Police Unity Tour have been taking the long and high road to honor their fallen comrades. They live by the mantra, “It’s not how they died, but how they lived.”
Four of the 12 officers on the tour, riding bicycles across part of the U.S., made a stop in Scottsdale on Monday to present Scottsdale’s police chief and Mayor Mary Manross with a baton bearing the names of Arizona officers who died in the line of duty last year.
Retired Sgt. Fred Fogarty and senior lead officer Craig White of the Los Angeles Police Department, detective Lt. Kevin Hoffman and senior investigator Dennis Dempsey of the Amherst (N.Y.) Police Department, rode 150 miles from Needles, Calif., to Kingman. They were driven to Scottsdale for the ceremony.
In the last three years, the Scottsdale Police Department has raised more than $16,000 to benefit the tour, said Scottsdale Lt. Frank O’Halloran, who will join the ride May 9-12. His leg of the journey will be a 300-mile trip from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., with a stop at ground zero in New York City. To ride in the event, officers have to raise $3,500.
The tour will conclude for a ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., on May 15. There, 157 names of officers who died in the line of duty across the United States last year will be added to the memorial.
“What these guys are doing is inspirational,” O’Halloran said of the officers riding cross-country. “There’s thousands of people there thanking you for what you’ve done, but we’ve done nothing but ride bicycles. A lot of the people who will be at the memorial in Washington, D.C., lost a spouse.”
The funds raised will ultimately be put toward an $80 million national law enforcement museum in Washington, D.C., that is scheduled to be completed by 2009, Dempsey said.
Sgt. Thomas A. Hontz is the only Scottsdale police officer to die in the line of duty. He was killed Feb., 20, 2002, when an explosive detonated during a SWAT training exercise in Gilbert.
For more information, visit www.putxcountry.blogspot.com.
Arizona’s fallen officers in 2005
Deputy sheriff Timothy David Graham Worked for: Pima County Sheriff’s Office Ended service: Aug. 10 Cause of death: Struck by vehicle
Police officer Ramon Molina Rios Jr. Worked for: Douglas Police Department Ended service: Sept. 4 Cause of death: Heart attack
Police officer Paul Robert Salmon Worked for: Phoenix Police Department Ended service: Nov. 29 Cause of death: Automobile crash
Correctional officer Gabriel B. Saucedo Worked for: Arizona Department of Corrections Ended service: June 2 Cause of death: Accidental gunfire
Police officer David Christopher Uribe Worked for: Phoenix Police Department Ended service: May 10 Cause of death: Gunfire
Source: Officer Down Memorial Page, www.odmp.org