police unity

Officers ride to support those who died in the line of duty.

Joel Landau

NORTHFIELD - Merry Hoopes said she appreciates every time someone remembers her husband, Jim -a New Jersey state trooper who died due to a heart ailment last September.

And recently, the ceremonies have gotten bigger and bigger.

One hundred and fifty state troopers and police officers in the South Jersey region stopped by Birch Grove Park to pay tribute to Jim Hoopes, who died Sept. 12 at the age of 40. He was a detective sergeant with the casino police unit in Atlantic City.

The ceremony was part of the Police Unity Tour, which will draw thousands of police officers to Washington, D.C., in honor of National Police Week, which starts Monday.

A vigil will be held and all the police officers who have died in the past year will be remembered.

The group of bicycle riders left Delran on Thursday morning and arrived in Northfield for the 5 p.m. ceremony. They will also stop at the Millville Police Department on South High Street at 8 a.m. today to honor Officer Christopher Reeves, who died July 8 while pursuing a suspect in his vehicle.

They will also stop at the memorial for State Trooper Bertram T. Zimmerman III on Route 83 in Cape May County about 9 a.m. Zimmerman died in February 2004, also in a motor vehicle accident while pursuing a robber.

"Police officers are a close-knit family," said Sgt. John Sheeran of the State Police. "When an officer loses his life in the line of duty it hits home. It's a way to remember and not forget those who died."

This was the second ceremony in the past month for the Hoopes family, which includes two sons Jayson, 12, and Joey, 9.

Jim Hoopes was a 14-year veteran of the State Police and a longtime youth sports coach in Northfield.

A monument was dedicated in his honor in the middle of all the sports fields last month. Merry Hoopes said her husband always wanted to coach his sons and be a role model for all his players. Now when his children play at the park it's like their father is there, she said.

"I'm honored people respect him so much they do all these events," she said.

Northfield Little League President Jason Yard said Hoopes was always dedicated to helping his players.

"He was one of those coaches you couldn't not have learned from," he said.

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