Po­lice Unity Tour passes through Ce­cil County

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— As a sergeant with the Lans­ing (Mich.) Po­lice Depart­ment, Sean Mills has a spe­cial bond with his fel­low of­fi­cers, men and women he works closely with on a daily ba­sis.

But Mills, who is a 14-year vet­eran, feels a con­nec­tion with any­one who serves or has served as a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, no mat­ter the type of po­lice agency, no mat­ter what part of the United States.

More­over, he has an even

CE­CIL COUNTY

deeper re­spect and grat­i­tude for po­lice of­fi­cers who were killed in the line of duty.

That’s why Mills was among ap­prox­i­mately 160 po­lice of­fi­cers and sup­port peo­ple who made their way through Ce­cil County on Tues­day — most of them ped­al­ing bi­cy­cles, Mills in­cluded — on day two of the four-day Po­lice Unity Tour from Philadel­phia to Washington, D.C.

Part of the an­nual Po­lice Week, the 180-mile bike jour­ney to the na­tion’s capi­tol is one of the ways that those in law en­force­ment and those who sup­port them pay trib­ute to of­fi­cers who sac­ri­ficed their lives.

“We are all part of a broth­er­hood, and we are do­ing this to honor the fallen of­fi­cers,” said Mills, who, as he had done the pre­vi­ous two years, drove from Michi­gan to Philadel­phia to ride his bi­cy­cle in the tour.

Most of the bi­cy­clists are mem­bers of the Po­lice Unity Tour’s Chap­ter 11, which rep­re­sents law en­force­ment agen­cies from Penn­syl­va­nia,

New Jersey, Vir­ginia and Mary­land. But some came from other parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing Florida, Wis­con­sin, Mas­sachusetts and, in Mills’ case, Michi­gan to par­tic­i­pate.

It’s a broth­er­hood, like Mills said, and with any broth­er­hood comes friendly com­pe­ti­tion, marked by friendly teas­ing.

“At first, we’ll have con­ver­sa­tions about work and ask each other real ques­tions,” a fel­low of­fi­cer from else­where in the coun­try in­ter­jected, de­clin­ing to give his name. “But then, all we do is dog each other and laugh.”

Con­trast­ing that light­hearted ca­ma­raderie were the wrist bracelets worn by the bi­cy­clists. Each one had the name of an of­fi­cer killed in the line of duty some­where in the United States at some point dur­ing the past 100 years or more.

The fallen heroes on Mills’ three wrist­bands were Of­fi­cer Ryan Copeland of the Wis­con­sin State Po­lice, Sgt. Joseph Ab­della of the Detroit Po­lice Depart­ment and Trooper Chad Wolf of the Michi­gan State Po­lice.

Some of the rid­ers had at­tached plac­ards bear­ing the names and pho­tos of the fallen of­fi­cers on the back of their bi­cy­cle seats and util­ity bags.

In many cases, bi­cy­clists make ar­range­ments with the sur­vivors of the fallen of­fi­cers on their wrist­bands and then present those wrist­bands to them af­ter ar­riv­ing at RFK Sta­dium in Washington, D.C. for the an- nual Po­lice Week cer­e­mony.

The bi­cy­cle tour group en­tered Ce­cil County from the north shortly be­fore noon on Tues­day and had lunch at the Ch­e­sa­peake Vol­un­teer Fire Co. sta­tion, be­fore con­tin­u­ing its south­west­ern trek — led by a mo­tor­cade that in­cluded Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice deputies and Mary­land State Po­lice troop­ers.

Near the in­ter­sec­tion of West Pu­laski High­way and Land­ing Lane in Elk­ton, the bri­gade of bi­cy­clists passed un­der a United States flag hang­ing from the ex­tended lad­ders of two Singerly Vol­un­teer Fire Co. lad­der trucks parked on op­po­site sides of the west­bound lane.

A few miles later, the bi­cy­clists stopped at MSP’s North East bar­rack, where they spent a lit­tle time rest­ing, quench­ing their thirsts and mak­ing ad­just­ments to their bikes, be­fore fil­ing in for brief fallen of­fi­cer cer­e­mony, which started with two bag­pipers per­form­ing a song.

The bi­cy­clists were sched­uled to pedal to Aberdeen, where they would stay in a ho­tel on Tues­day be­fore con­tin­u­ing their trek to Washington.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Bi­cy­clists pedal their way un­der a U.S. flag-draped arch­way cre­ated by two Singerly Vol­un­teer Fire Co. lad­der trucks.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Bi­cy­clists give the thumbs-up sign as they pedal down the high­way.

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