NEWINGTON - Fourteen years after he was tragically killed in the line of duty, Newington Master Police Officer Sgt. Peter Lavery’s legacy lives on through the efforts of family, friends and fellow officers.
The 14th annual MPO Peter Lavery Memorial Run is set for next Sunday, Sept. 16. The motorcycle ride begins in Newington’s Churchill Park and runs through eight towns. Riders can register between 8 and 9:45 a.m. before departing at 10 a.m. A $20 donation per bike is requested.
The route heads through Berlin, Rocky Hill, Cromwell, Middletown, Portland, Glastonbury and Wethersfield before circling back into Newington. It is one of the only police-escorted rides of its kind, according to Peter’s widow, Pamela Lavery.
“It’s an amazing operation to watch,” she explained. “There are usually 45 motor officers who ride the entire ride. They block off all the intersections so we don’t have to stop at any lights. They do an amazing job of keeping the riders safe. The fact that so many police departments from around the state participate is a tremendous tribute to Peter.”
Her husband was a motor officer and worked for the town of Newington for 16 years. He loved taking part in organized motorcycle rides and the couple also enjoyed riding together. Peter was killed on Dec. 30, 2004 following a 12-hour standoff at a home on Mountain View Drive, where he had responded to a domestic violence incident.
The Peter J. Lavery Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to honor his legacy. The fund awards scholarships each year to several local students who are pursuing careers in law enforcement. At least $140,000 in scholarships has been awarded to date.
The children of retired Newington police Sgt. Jeanine Allin are among those who benefited from this award. Allin was a close friend of the Lavery family and worked with Peter for 14 years.
“There were a bunch of us who were supposed to have dinner with him and his wife on New Year’s Eve and unfortunately he was killed before that happened,” Allin remembered this week. “Not only did we have a close work relationship but we were good friends outside of work as well.”
Allin volunteers at the ride every year, registering participants as they come into the park.
“I think it’s really important that Peter’s memory is kept alive,” she said. “Despite the fact that he’s not here we still care about him and his family and his legacy.”
Lots of volunteers make the ride a success, from the motor officer escorts to people who cook lunch when riders return and those who clean up the park afterwards.
“I’m so grateful for that,” Pamela said. “Truly, we couldn’t do it without everybody’s help.”
Fire departments in each of the towns on the route have taken on their own tradition the day of the event. As riders head by their stations, they are greeted by giant American flags flying from fire apparatuses in Peter’s honor.
The event will be held in rain or shine. 14th Annual Peter Lavery Memorial Ride T-shirts are being sold in advance at Connecticut Police Supply on Fenn Road and Gengras Harley-Davidson on Governor St. in East Hartford.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go:
WHAT: The 14th annual MPO Peter Lavery Memorial Run
WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 16 at 10 a.m.
WHERE: Churchill Park, Newington
HOW: $20 donation per bike