But when they do get together, it is usually for a good reason.
Last week, officers from the West New York and Union City Police Departments braved potential sunburn to raise money and awareness of the Special Olympics when they took part in the annual Special Olympics New Jersey Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The event, coordinated by Union City Detective Eddie McGuire, has become something that many members of the department look forward to participating in each year.
The run raises money for the Special Olympics, an organization that empowers individuals with mental retardation or other disabilities through sports training and competition.
The torch run actually moves throughout the state over a period of days. The Hudson County portion of the event begins in North Bergen and has officers running with a symbolic torch down Bergenline Avenue and passing it to another set of officers from the next town. This year's run culminated in Newark.
According to McGuire, "This is my seventh year as coordinator of the event. When I first started this, they needed somebody and I was the lucky one. I just volunteered. It's really grown over the years."
McGuire mentioned that in the early days, only a few officers showed up. But as time went by and under his tutelage, the event has become very popular.
"This event is through the whole state," McGuire said, "and I am proud to say that Union City routinely ranks in the top 10 in donations to the Special Olympics each year." To illustrate McGuire's point, each officer wore a specially made T-shirt that, on the back, listed the Top 10 departments. Union City ranked seventh this year just behind towns such as Jersey City, Wayne, Saddle River, Hopewell Township and Howell.
Said McGuire, "It's a great cause. It's done for people that have less than others. I am grateful to have three wonderful kids, and I'll do anything I can to give back."
Also present for the run was Union City Captain Joe Blaettler, who was effusive in his excitement for the event. Said Blaettler, "It's a worthy cause and it brings the cops together in the whole state. It's a real unifying thing. It's a 'feel good' thing for everyone involved. I remember doing this 18 years ago with three guys and a van. We'd each run for three blocks then trade off, then someone else would run." Added Blaettler, "Since Detective McGuire took over, the money has gone up."
The Reporter counted almost 20 officers last week, which clearly illustrates how the event has grown in popularity.
According to Police Officer Rich D'Andrea, "It's a good cause. I've run every year since I've been on the job, almost 10 years. It's the perfect day for it. I went to the academy with Eddie [McGuire], so I've been involved for a long time."
According to Special Olympics Communications Manager Kimberly Baraldi, "This year is actually the Torch Run's 20th Anniversary. The New Jersey section of the Torch Run was ranked number one [in donations] in the world this year. That is out of 92 various Torch Runs that take place worldwide."
Added Baraldi, "That pretty much goes to show what law enforcement does for us. They're a bunch of very commendable guys."