Police Unity Tour passes through Cecil County
— 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
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.
Bicyclists pedal their way under a U.S. flag-draped archway created by two Singerly Volunteer Fire Co. ladder trucks.
Bicyclists give the thumbs-up sign as they pedal down the highway.