Union City police honor fallen officers during National Police Week

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The Union City Police Department is honoring two of their own during National Police Week.

The city’s 43rd Street is now named for Officer Ricardo “Ricky” Fernandez, who died unexpectedly in December.

“I know that he is up in heaven looking at us smiling and happy,” says widow Lillian Fernandez.

Officer Fernandez’s wife, two children, parents and siblings joined the Union City Police Department Tuesday night as the Union City Police Motorcycle Squad building was also named in his honor.

“He loved this place. It was a second home for him,” he wife says. “He loved his motorcycle.”

The dedication was planned for Tuesday because this week marks National Police Week in New Jersey and across the nation. 

The event also takes on important meaning for the Union City officers because they recently lost another Union City officer. Sgt. Mark Zeitounian, 44, was killed in a four-car crash on Route 3 in Rutherford Saturday night. He was on his way to work when it happened.

“Police Week is truly a special time to engage the community,” Chief Richard Molinari says. “To remind everyone that it’s important to never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Molinari acknowledges that neither Officer Fernandez nor Sgt. Zeitounian died while on duty, but says that the recent unexpected losses are as tough to take as the six line-of-duty deaths Union City has been dealt over the decades.

The cause of the accident that claimed Zeitounian's life is still under investigation. His funeral is scheduled for Friday. 

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