BY MANNY PURI – As a Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) member and chapter vice president, I wanted to bring to light the efforts of some of our FLEOA members who participated in the 2012 Police Unity Tour.
The Police Unity Tour was formed in 1997 by a group of local law enforcement officers from New Jersey who rode their bicycles from Florham Park, New Jersey to Washington, D.C.
For the past 12 years, law enforcement officers nationwide have ridden the 300 plus mile trip, with the hope of bringing public awareness of Police Officers who have died in the line of duty and to honor their sacrifices. Our slogan: “WE RIDE FOR THOSE WHO DIED”.
What started with 18 riders on a four day fund-raising bicycle ride from Florham Park, NJ, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. has grown into 8 Chapters compromising of nearly 1,600 members nationwide who make the trip annually.
Davan Gabbard, a local girl from Kapolei, and now a Deputy US Marshal in New York, has participated in the charity event for the past two years and has raised over $10,000 for the Police Unity Tour, which funds the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in D.C.
This year she also raised over $11,000 for the U.S. Marshals Survivors Benefit Fund. Last year, the US Marshals Service lost Deputy U.S. Marshals Derek Hotsinpiller and John Perry and several US Marshal Task Force Officers who were killed while executing fugitive warrants.
This year was especially meaningful to the former HPD Police Explorer as she cycled the 300 mile long route in honor of HPD Officer Eric Fontes.
Officer Fontes was killed September 13th 2011 when he was near the concrete median on Farrington Highway near Ko Olina assisting with a traffic stop, when an approaching truck went off the roadway and plowed into him.
Gabbard wore a remembrance bracelet during the ride in his honor and created a memorial photo of him that she placed on the wall where his name is engraved.
As a fellow law enforcement officer and Hawaii native, Gabbard said it was an honor to ride for Officer Fontes and to stand by his name on the memorial as it was read aloud at the candlelight vigil ceremony.
It is important that we always remember and honor the sacrifices made by our fallen officers.
I am very proud of her and the all other FLEOA members who rode in the Police Unity Tour to ensure that these heroes are never forgotten.