Detective Sean Mitchell was in a hotel room when he got the call.
Officer Brian Worell was shot during a robbery at the Exxon gas station on Route 23 North in May 2010.
Mitchell was participating in the annual Police Unity Tour. The tour is a national event where thousands of police officers from throughout the country ride their bikes hundreds of miles to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. The men and women ride in memory of those officers killed in the line of duty each year.
Two men were earlier this month.
“We weren’t riding for one of our own, but we almost were,” said Detective Sean Mitchell. “There were people there who had lost one of their own. While you’re riding you talk to people and find out who they lost and their ride becomes your ride.”
The tour has raised approximately $10 million since it first began in 1997.
Officer Patrick Montuore of the Florham Park Police Department organized it.
This year’s ride begins May 9 and ends at the memorial on May 12. Mitchell, Reardon, Detective Dennis Paylo, and Officer Damian Esposito are participating in the event.
“When you pull into RFK Stadium, people are lining the streets. They hold up signs that say ‘thanks for riding for my mom’,” Mitchell said. “It’s very inspirational and moving.”
A candlelight vigil is held at the memorial for those officers who were killed in the line of duty the previous year. The first year Mitchell participated in the event he was an escort for a victim’s family members at the ceremony.
“I walked with a 16-year-old girl and she said ‘I just want to thank you for riding,’ and that’s incredible,” Mitchell said. “It’s an honor to be a part of something like that.”
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 37 police officers have been killed in the line of duty since April 19, 2011 until now. Of those 37, 14 were killed in incidents involving firearms. More than 60 were killed in the same time frame from 2010 to 2011. Nearly half of those deaths occurred in firearms-related incidents.
Chief said he and his fellow officers recognize the risk they take by putting on their uniforms everyday. Training and having certain procedures in place help to reduce the possibility of a serious incident occurring. When a Wayne police officer conducts a traffic stop, a second patrol car is dispatched to the scene and remains there until the situation is secure.
Mitchell, a four-year detective, said that an officer must never let his or her guard down while on the job.
“You’re always asking yourself ‘what if’, and once you stop doing that and you don’t plan for that, that’s when something happens,” Mitchell said..
Each officer must donate $1,750 to participate in the ride. Donations may be mailed to the Wayne Police Department, 475 Valley Road, attention: police unity tour. Checks should be made out to the Police Unity Tour.
“There is an amazing sense of accomplishment that you feel when you finish the ride,” Paylo said. “We all have a goal in mind when we start riding and to see it finished and to know that you did it for a good cause and in memory of someone, that’s an incredible feeling.”