JERSEY CITY, NJ — Hundreds of local police officers were en route to Washington D.C. on Thursday; they are cycling the 300 miles to raise awareness for fallen officers as part of the annual Police Unity Tour.
In Jersey City, officers honored the family of one man who planned to participate in the ride, but was then shot and killed in the line of duty.
“My dad was looking forward to riding in his first Police Unity Tour with my mom and us following to D.C. in our minivan,” said Gwendolyn DiNardo.
Her father, Detective Marc DiNardo, bought a bike and trained for the ride with his little ones in tow. But instead of riding in the tour, he went to work in 2009 and was killed in a violent shootout.
“He was shot in the face with a shotgun by a career criminal that my dad had arrested once before,” said DiNardo.
It’s been 10 years since her father’s death.
Paul DiNardo picked up his late brother’s bike and rode in his place. He’s been riding annually in his memory ever since.
His brothers in blue honored him for that Thursday with a framed Police Unity Tour plaque.
“I know you lost your brother, but you gained all these brothers and sisters here. So we want to present this plaque to you and thank you very much,” said Police Unity Tour National Board Member James Lisi.
In a few years, Marc DiNardo’s kids plan to join the cause.
“When I am old enough it is my hope to complete the police unity tour in honor of my dad. I’d be honored to have my uncle by my side to guide me,” said Gwendolyn DiNardo.
Money from the tour will go towards the national law enforcement officers memorial. Officers from Jersey City’s Police Department raised $70,000 this year.