Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Officers Pedal To Washington, D.C. on Police Unity Tour In Honor of Fallen Officers

The 22nd annual Police Unity Tour got underway May 9, with six Morris County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officers from the Bureau of Corrections – five pedaling – bound for the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., nearly 300 miles away.

Sheriff Gannon and the Unity Tour
Six Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections Officers, Corporals and a Lieutenant set off May 9 on the four-day Police Unity Tour to Washington, D.C. in honor of fallen law enforcement officers.

Chapter 1 of the Police Unity Tour left East Hanover at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, with Bureau of Corrections Lieutenant Michael Schweizer, Corrections Corporals Bill Lanfrank and Pete Lohmus, and Corrections Officers Eric Brauner and Al Guerriero joining the pack of more than 400 high-energy bicyclists making the four-day trip out of a sense of duty to honor law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

Corrections Officer Frank Corrente is driving a support vehicle – a Morris County Sheriff’s Office truck – to assist riders and help repair bicycles

This year’s Police Unity Tour is the first for Lieutenant Schweizer and Officers Guerriero and Corrente, and its start coincided with Lieutenant Schweizer’s birthday.

Sheriff James M. Gannon at the Police Unity Tour
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon gives the thumbs-up to riders in the 22nd annual Police Unity Tour in which law enforcement officers from around the country, and other countries, pedal to Washington, D.C. in honor of police officers who have died in the line of duty.

“I wouldn’t celebrate my birthday any other way. It’s going to be a good time and it’s for a good cause,” said Lieutenant Schweizer, whose wife, Heather, and parents, Howie and Jane Schweizer, saw him off in East Hanover.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Bureau of Corrections Undersheriff Alan J. Robinson, Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer and nearly a dozen officers from the Bureau of Corrections were also in East Hanover to give the team a warm sendoff.

“I wish them all a safe trip and I appreciate the sense of duty they have toward all law enforcement officers who have died while serving. A tremendous event like the Police Unity Tour strengthens the bonds between officers who perform a dangerous job every day,” Sheriff Gannon said.

The first Police Unity Tour – which has grown into a large-scale event that draws about 2,500 law enforcement bicyclists to Washington, D.C. – occurred in 1997. It was started by then-Florham Park Police Patrolman Patrick Montuore, who wanted to ensure that fallen officers were not forgotten.

In memory of Florham Park Detective Francis A. Dailey and Patrolman Robert Hauptman, who were killed in a small aircraft crash in July 1975 while on a reconnaissance flight searching for a marijuana crop, the now-retired Florham Park Police Chief Montuore and 17 other bicyclists pedaled to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. in May 1997 in their honor.

The concept took hold, and 22 years later, there are 9 chapters of the Police Unity Tour and at least 2,500 members. Collectively, they have donated at least $25 million dollars to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon wishes Rockaway Township Police Officers riding in the 22nd annual Police Unity Tour to Washington, D.C. a safe trip on May 9, 2019.

Former Chief Montuore was in East Hanover Thursday for the start of Chapter 1’s trip, rallying riders and wishing them a safe journey. Other Police Unity Tour riders around the country are starting from points closer to their homes but all riders will converge on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 12.

The motto of the Police Unity Tour is “We Ride For Those Who Died.”

Sheriff James M. Gannon and riders in the Police Unity Tour
From left, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, Bureau of Corrections Captain James Janzen, Bureau of Corrections Undersheriff Alan J. Robinson, Police Unity Tour Founder and former Florham Park Police Chief Patrick Montuore, Corrections Bureau Lieutenant Michael Schweizer, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, Corrections Officer Al Guerriero, Corrections Corporal Bill Lanfrank, and Corrections Officer Frank Corrente at the start of the Police Unity Tour on May 9, 2019.

As riders and their support crews gathered in East Hanover, the atmosphere was full of camaraderie and embraces. Rockaway Township, Florham Park and Mount Olive Township Police Departments were among the other local law enforcement agencies with riders on the tour, and riders were escorted on their way by a convoy of 36 police motorcycles from departments in northern New Jersey.