It’s 1997. Two somewhat-physically-fit cops are draped in their Police Unity Tour jackets, sitting on one side of a conference table at the New Jersey State PBA headquarters. Across the table, NJ State PBA President Michael Madonna and Executive Vice-President Anthony Wieners relax in black leather chairs. The two men are bicycle cops Pat Motuore of Florham Park and Harry Phillips of West Orange, and they are telling of this bicycle ride they just made to Washington D.C. for Police Week called the Police Unity Tour. They need a little help with the Tour, so they have literally placed all their cars on the table.
Harry: We spent all our money covering tour expenses, so
we are selling these Unity Tour miniature cars to try and
raise some funds and keep it going for next year. We thought
the NJ State PBA might want to get involved. We know you
understand why we put this event together. You get that
feeling of what it’s like when you’re in the National Law
Pat: It started with an idea but we have a group of people
with the intensity and commitment. There’s so many of us
with the same goal to remember how thankful and blessed
Madonna and Wieners reply: Yes, we can be your partner on
this. With your vision Pat, we can make the ride every year
something that will put New Jersey on the map.
Everybody shakes hands. Cut to Pat and Harry and Pat walking
out the front door. They stop to look at the check they
When Harry Met Pat
Dissolve to Harry Phillips stopping in the midst of his bike
patrol to answer his cell phone.
Cut to Pat talking into his cell phone:Hey “Hep,” I’m getting
together a bunch of guys. We’re going to do a ride to D.C. for
Harry: Pat, that sounds crazy…Count me in.
Harry begins walking south through the Law Enforcement
Memorial. The screen at his back is showing scenes from the
inaugural Unity Tour in 1997. Eighteen brave men look like
they are riding in a wind tunnel. Harry starts talking to the
I’m Harry Phillips, Executive Director of the Police Unity
Tour. I retired from West Orange when Pat told me I needed
to run the event full time. I rode in 10 tours before femoral
artery bypass put me on the support team full-time. Pat
stopped riding the year before. We have three guys left who
have made every trip.
Cut to Harry standing in front of life-size map of the northeast
seaboard. He makes like a weatherman…
Pat drew a basic line from Florham Park to D.C. and that first
year we were riding over mountains and all kinds of…stuff.
It was miserable. We stayed in some hotels that were an
hour away from being a one-hour motel. I was drying
myself with a wash cloth, that’s how bad it was. Twenty-two
were supposed to ride. Eighteen showed up at the start.
Cut to Harry riding his bike into the National Law Enforcement
Memorial in D.C., and continuing…
We were doing this to raise awareness for Line of Duty
Deaths. But we were very competitive. Then, once we rode
through that memorial and saw the names on the walls,
everything changed. It wasn’t about you; it was about them.
Nobody could say a word. Now, I’m not a religious guy, but
this is how powerful it was: When we rode past the walls,
you could hear the names on them, saying, “Where have
Riding with the stars
Cut to Harry walking through what could be the Museum
of Modern Art. He is showing life-like cardboard cutouts of
some of the Tour’s easy riders. He looks at each on as if to
say hello, then turns to the camera and begins…
So this is Pat in his day job as chief of the Florham Park PD.
To the 14,000-plus Tour riders who have crossed the finish
line, he will always be our chief.
And this, of course, is NJ State PBA President Tony Wieners.
He is John Wayne on a bicycle. He culminated his career
with his third Tour in 2014. Said he was riding his farewell
for all 32,000-plus members of the PBA as well as the 25,000-
plus names on the wall.
Meet Mike Pellegrino whom you know as the Ewing Township
Local 111 Sate Delegate. He’s been riding since 9-11.
Just did his 12th three months after hip replacement. He
always tells me, “Harry, once you start riding you just can’t
Yes, this is Lisa Preslar, the Garden State C.O.P.S. President.
She rides for her husband, Lakewood Officer Niche, who we
lost six years ago. She worries about her riding reminding
officers about what could happen to them. She is why we
Everybody knows Pat Colligan from the great work he is
doing with pension and benefits for the State PBA. He is Jim
Belushi in bike pants. With legs like RoboCop.
The bookends here are Newark Bike Patrol officer Hernandez
Thomas and Berkeley Heights Local 144 officer Mark
Stallone, who teaches bike patrol at the Union County
Police Academy. They have ridden the most times.
The last cutout magically turns into a real person.
This guy needs no introduction. It’s John Hulse.
Hulse steps off his bike, puts his arm around Harry, cues the
music for the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” and the lights go
dim. He clears his throat.
We are fortunate to have Harry Phillips. When you chisel
through his exterior that’s as hard as that wall at the memorial,
inside you find a wonderful, giving generous person
who really believes in his profession and the people who
Fade to black.
The scenery passes by on a deserted highway when suddenly
Pat Colligan rides into the picture as if he’s trying to catch
up. His legs are churning and he’s breathing heavy. He’s
been training hard because this year he toured with the
cops from the LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
In between breaths, he squeezes out some words…
We had probably one of the most difficult winters to train,
but ideally, you want to ride a little bit in the fall until it’s too
cold. You get the occasional day in the winter when the wind
is dead and you take a long ride with a few people. You try
and do spin classes to keep your legs going. Spring weekends
are good to get out for 30 or 40 miles with another rider
to help you push it.
Colligan picks up the pace, pumps harder and throws his
hands up like he just hit the finish line. As he slows, he rides
toward the camera and provides a final training tip.
It’s not that way for everybody. I get pictures from the L.A.
guys riding on the Ocean Highway in February when sleet
is hitting my windows.
Let it Ride
Fade in to the parking lot of the Target in East Hanover.
Riders are lined up in rows. Montuore paces up and down
the ranks sounding a little like George C. Scott at the beginning
You couldn’t imagine anything to reach so many other
states and countries as we have here in New Jersey. Everybody
believes in this with heart and soul. It’s our thing. It’s
our cause for the job we serve and the people we serve.
Before we roll, I’d like Mr. President to say a few words.
From the middle of the pack, we hear President Wieners
shout…You make me so proud by the way you honor those who
made the supreme sacrifice. Everybody get there safe.
Ache, Battle and Roll
The sounds of slot machines spinning and paying off fades
as the camera swoops past the casino at Caesar’s in
Atlantic City to find the PBA mini-convention letting out
for the day. Some members have hung around and are circled
around Tony and Harry. Think the group from Ocean’s
11 with everybody trying to interrupt each other.
Hulse: See, while there are other great fundraisers for great
causes, this really requires a lot. You dedicate yourself to ride
in any weather. You know you gave your sweat and skin, and
I feel like I really contributed in so many ways.
Harry: You’re riding two 100-mile days in a row. That’s like
running a marathon on back to back days.
Thomas: Before we ride, we do the chant from Gladiator –
“We take everything and give them nothing in return.”
Colligan: You start to hurt a little but almost every bike has
the picture and name of a fallen officer. As weird as it
sounds, you get inspired. That gets you to the next break.
You refresh and start then next 20-mile hump.
Tony: The first year I rode it was through pouring rain. We’re
coming up on a hill, and I’m thinking, “Quit your bellyaching.
Think about who you are riding for.”
Pellegrino:You get to see a lot of areas you wouldn’t see, but
it’s the smells, too. You pass a lot of farmland and get a lot
of different smells.
Colligan: If it’s hot, you have to stay on the potassium and
sodium and make sure you’re hydrated. But keeping hydrated
is a fine line with having to go the bathroom.
Stallone: Everyone chips in to make sure everyone gets
there. If you have to push somebody up a hill or block the
wind, the ultimate goal is to get everyone there.
Harry: They’re going to suffer but that’s their way of paying
it forward. How can you do it? Because it’s the right thing:
Make sure no name in the memorial is ever forgotten.
Hulse: Every turn of the wheel gets you closer, and the closer
you get, the more amped up you get . The honor of doing
it gives you the pedaling power.
Fade out to the sounds of slot machines spinning and jackpots
Cut to a rest stop somewhere in Maryland. Cars are slowing
down on the highway because they see a group of women
posing for photos. Zoom in to see these are the spouses of
cops who died in the line of duty. They know each other
through National Concerns Of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).
They are the royalty on Tour. Lisa steps forward from their
bicycle-built chorus line, motions the camera to follow her
We weren’t even sure they wanted us here, but they put that
all to rest the first year I rode. They treat us like princesses,
getting our bikes ready, toting our luggage and putting
us at the front of the pack. We recently told them how
much it means to us to be able to ride. And you know
what these guys said? “Thank you for allowing us to
ride in your husband’s memory.”
Lisa wipes a tear and hugs two cops from Lakewood
who worked with Niche. Dissolve to the line of bikes
pulling out of the rest stop and a group of workers
loading up vans.
Jackson Browne’s “The Load-Out” plays over footage
of people carrying luggage, cases of water, barrels of
bananas and other assorted items to load into vans.
The music softens and Hulse’s voice can be heard over
I remember my first ride. I got into my hotel room and my
bags were there. It’s all because of the support people. We get
all the glory, but without them, we couldn’t do any of this. If
you don’t believe me, take it from a guy who has been there
Stallone is now the voice-over the footage…
The first year, if you broke down, you had to fix it yourself and
catch up. Now, while we’re in bed in our hotel rooms, the
support team is up all night getting us ready for the next day.
Cut to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C, which is filled
goal-line-to-goal-line with bicycles and riders. A pack mustering
at the 50-yard-line engages in a group high-five, and
out of the pack bursts Hernandez Thomas and in that deep
Every year, riders from other states tell me, “You guys in
New Jersey have so much camaraderie. In our state, it’s
not like that.” I love this event because it brings us so
close. That’s why everybody keeps coming back. There’s so
much unity and it pumps you up. Over to you, Harry
The camera pans to find Harry in the stands with the sea of
riders behind him. He looks back at those that have come
from Chapters 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 37 and the Port Authority
– 1,800 total only because there wasn’t room for any more– then says…
After 9-11, it started to blow up with riders from New York,
California, Australia and even Israel. It’s become a blue
thing. Cops are cops no matter where you are from.
The Finishing Touch
A shot from a camera strapped to a bike on top of a hill shows
the riders stretched over the two miles leading into the National
Law Enforcement Memorial. Moving toward the front of
the pack, the camera stops to get some of our stars coming to
the end. Here’s Tony…
There’s no way I could even describe this feeling. Whether
you are a spectator or rider, everybody has dark sunglasses
on to hide the tears. And everybody remembers why they are
What do you think Mike Pellegrino?
I would love for every police officer to be able to do this one
time to be able to get this feeling.
What is that feeling, Mr. Colligan?
You can’t put the feeling into words. It’s very humbling and
it never gets old. I’m going to see one of the survivors, a son
or daughter holding up a picture of dad, and that is where it
ends for me.
Mark Stallone is about to finish his 17th Tour…
When I pull in, I will make eye contact with one of the survivors.
They will tell me they are so grateful we are doing this
to sustain the memorial and keep their loved one’s memory
And at the front of the pack about to arrive at the memorial
is Lisa Preslar…
I cry my eyes out when you see everybody along the route
clapping and thanking you. I will pull in and go down the
side where Niche is and put the flowers I have been carrying
for 300 miles there. And then I realize that these four
days weren’t so tough when this is waiting for me at the end.
The camera follows the riders around the memorial until
they come to rest at the podium where the official donation
is presented. Another $1.8 million has been collected this year,
bringing the total from 18 years to nearly $26 million. And
Pat steps up to the microphone doing the “Patton” thing
We are so proud of all of you for embracing those who have
been killed. You have chosen to do this ride, like you have
chosen this profession, and you are seeing all the blood,
sweat and tears culminating at a place of such dignity and
honor and sacrifice. In this waterfall of emotion, I wish I
could hug everybody that came through here today. You
look to left and right and realize they’re heroes because they
chose a career to help others before themselves. As we serve
together and remember our heroes, we are proud to ride for
those who died.
Cue the theme from “Chariots of Fire”…Fade to black.