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Fallen Michigan police officers honored at Woodward Dream Cruise

Fri, 14 Aug 2009 00:00:00 -0700

Joe Roeder can't help but feel pride when he talks about the memorial he has created for fallen Michigan police officers.

Since 2002, he has outfitted a Jaguar with the help of donors to ride in Detroit's Woodward Dream Cruise. This year, Roeder, an auxiliary sergeant with the Hazel Park Police Department in Michigan, will cruise in a 2009 Jaguar XF donated by Jaguar of Troy.

“I love doing it for the families--they are very appreciative,” Roeder says with an excited smile.

Roeder keeps the rolling memorial for a week and drives it to the stations of the fallen officers, where he is welcomed by emotional families and police departments.

“The officers really appreciate it, when I pull up they come running out,” said Roeder, who also works as a service consultant with a local Jaguar dealership.

This year three fallen officers are honored.

Oak Park Public Safety Officer Mason James Samborski was shot and killed while conducting an investigation following a traffic stop Dec. 28, 2008.

FBI Special Agent Paul M. Sorce was involved in a serious automobile accident resulting in his death March 9, 2009.

And most recently, Madison Heights police officer Ryan Settlemoir is believed to have died from the H1N1 virus June 12, 2009, that might have been contracted while on duty.

“I do it to bring understanding and awareness,” Roeder said. “It also brings law enforcement and the public together.”

Jessica-Nagel Wilson, a fellow Hazel Park police officer, was shot approaching a house call in 2002. Her death inspired Roeder to create the car, and she appears on the hood of every outfitted Jaguar.

Danny Long, an auxiliary officer with Hazel Park and a friend of Roeder, died March 17, 2008, in a car accident in Birch Run, Mich., along with his 5-year-old daughter. His memorial appears on the side of the car also.

The trunk lists the names of the fallen officers being honored this year: James Samborski, Paul M. Sorce and Ryan Settlemoir.

The back of the car lists the three officers. It includes their name, end of watch date and police department.

Majik Graphics of Clinton Twp., Mich., donates and applies all the detailing stickers and graphics. They outfit many local police department patrol cars.

“I wanted it to look exactly like our cars,” Roeder said.

Cruisers of Brighton, Mich., installs the police lights and Code 3 of St. Louis, Mo., donates them.

The Woodward Dream Cruise began in 1995 and draws more than 1 million visitors and 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom collector cars and special-interest vehicles. It runs Aug. 14-16.

Roeder will be up and down the packed avenue the weekend of the cruise. He will make a stop at the Emergency Vehicle Show in Ferndale Friday to kick off the cruise.

By Angie Favot