TRIBUTE: Fallen Police Officers Christopher Goodell of Waldwick and Stephen Petruzzello of Cliffside Park will be on the minds of many of the riders participating in this year’s Policy Unity Tour.
Contingents from Bergen County and elsewhere will be honoring Goodell, 32, who was working a radar detail in his unmarked cruiser, parked on the shoulder of southbound Route 17, when it was struck by an 18-wheeler driven by a Brooklyn trucker the morning of July 17 last year. The impact instantly killed him.
They’ll also honor Petruzzello, 22, who died of injuries after he fellow rookie Thaier (Theo) Abdallah were hit by an SUV on a borough street the night of Dec. 27. Petruzzello, who was a special officer at the time, was promoted to a full-fledged position by the borough mayor and council hours after his death two days later.
The 330-mile North Jersey leg of the ride sets off in East Hanover in Morris County on May 9 and will arrive at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 12.
Paramus Police Motor Officers Pete Arvidson, Brian Linden, and Thomas Schroeder will be among those riding police motorcycles to escort a contingent of bicyclists in the ride, which helps raise awareness and funds for the expansion, maintenance and preservation of the memorial.
Paramus police are also selling t-shirts to help meet their own fundraising minimum goal of $5,550.
Lynhurst emergency responders are hostng a Harlems Wizards basketball at Lyndhurt High School on March 7 to raise funds.
The ride is part of National Police Week, during which a variety of special events are held, including a candelight vigil that regularly draws tents of thousands to the memorial to dedicate the names of 118 police officers killed in the line of duty last year across the United States.
These include Goodell and Petruzzello, as well as Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago, who was shot and killed last July 13 while responding to a holdup, and NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were gunned down in cold blood as they sat in their cruiser on a Brooklyn street corner last year just days before Christmas.
All of their names will be added to the memorial.
Retired Cliffside Park Capt. Anthony Frado will join Sgt. J.D. York and Officer Sergio Khanukayev — who were instrumental in having Petruzzello’s name added to the memorial — will be riding in his honor.
What began with 18 cyclists 15 years ago has grown to more than 1,800 nationwide — and dozens from throughout Bergen County — who’ll be making this spring’s trip.
Participants come from other countries, as well, and leave from six “spokes” along the East Coast.
Each has pledged to raise the minimum $2,000 required to participate.
Last year’s ride produced $1.9 million in donations, bringing the total since 1997 to nearly $16 million.
(NOTE: You can include your department in this story. Just call or text me: (201) 943-2794 or email: GerardJDeMarco@gmail.com ~Jerry DeMarco)
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.