Fiancée, police pay tribute to WSU Sergeant Rose
— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
The pain is still fresh for Nicole Salgot who lost her fiancée, Wayne State University (WSU) Police Sergeant Collin Rose right before Thanksgiving 2016, but with officers rallying around her, she will take Rose’s spot in the 2017 Police Unity Tour.
The ride will be tough for Salgot on many levels. The endurance of the 320-miles is one factor; taking Rose’s place on the ride he raised funds for is another; but perhaps the most difficult part will be returning to the Memorial where Rose asked her to marry him last year, said Chris Powell, Rose’s friend and local POLC Union President. Riders complete their journey at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. May 12.
“It’s going to be a lot for her to absorb,” said Powell.
The couple was preparing for a fall 2017 wedding when Sgt. Rose was shot in the head Nov. 22, 2016 while investigating a man on a bicycle in Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood, near the university. His killer has not been found and the reward is up to $105,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Salgot continues the passions the couple shared, like working with K9s and remembering lives lost in the line of duty. She is working toward a veterinary technician degree while caring for seven dogs the couple had at their home, including rescue and police dogs like Clyde, Rose’s K9 Rottweiler, who was retired to Salgot.
POLC, LEEP PAYS RESPECTS
Powell has been leading the charge to remember Sgt. Rose by organizing several fundraisers to help Rose’s family and other organizations near and dear to Rose. “We’re thrilled that we raised about $18,000 in Collin’s memory for the Unity Tour,” Powell said in March, adding that Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) contributed $3,000 of that amount. “That is the most we’ve ever raised.”
POLC Director Rob Figurski and Mark Young of the Detroit Police Lieutenant’s and Sergeants Association honored Rose for his ultimate sacrifice during a ceremony and news conference at WSU, March 6 where they presented plaques to WSU officers, Rose’s parents, Salgot and her parents. Detroit Chief of Police James Craig spoke about the $105,000 reward and task force’s tireless search for Rose’s killer. Police released a video of a suspect running near the area to the news in an effort to draw tips. Several Detroit and WSU Officers were in attendance along with Epsilon, a German Shepard Rose trained as a protection dog and gifted to his parents.
“Having Chris and the other officers has been absolutely incredible,” Salgot said. “I always knew that I’d have support from the blue family, as Collin and I were always part of that support for those fallen before him. I just never understood the full depth of what it really meant, until now. Collin always insisted on ensuring he was present at as many funerals of fallen officers as possible because he felt it was the duty he owed to those officers and their families. Now, being on the other end of that and seeing the support, really brings it home and gives it new meaning for me.”
Officers throughout Michigan continue to honor Rose, like Woodhaven Police Lt. Frank Zdankiewicz, who rode with Rose in the tour and during the 10-hour bus ride to and from the event in 2015 and 2016. Team Woodhaven was able to refurbish an unused city senior bus into a police vehicle with community support. They also use it so area Unity Tour riders could travel together with their luggage, bikes and equipment. Rose and Powell rode in its inaugural voyage in 2015 along riders from six other departments. “It’s really kind of cool. The only people that can do this ride are active law enforcement, retired law enforcement and survivors,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Julie Busch, who met Rose during the 2015 Unity Tour and rode the bus with him in 2016.
Team Woodhaven used money they raised to provide Salgot with items needed to complete the ride. “I couldn’t think of a better reason to use that money. We bought her the bike, the shoes, the helmet, the gloves and some training gear. That was the right thing to do,“ Zdankiewicz said.
Riders must raise a minimum of $1,850 to participate in the Tour. “We do yearly fundraisers for our group and a local bike shop (Al Petri and Sons) sponsors us,” Zdankiewicz said. ”They probably gave us nearly half off on everything.”
Each member has their own seat on the 12-person bus and in honor of Collin, his seat will remain vacant for the annual trip. “We took the bus to Collin’s funeral and on the way to the funeral there was a person sitting in the seat that Collin sits in and she was widow of fallen officer. I light heartedly joked ‘that’s Collin’s seat,’” Zdankiewicz said.
The widow said she couldn’t sit there and moved. During the ride home, the bus hit a curb and another officer was thrown toward Collin’s seat. He put his hand up to balance himself on the shelf above Collin’s seat and to his surprise and everyone else’s on the bus, Zdankiewicz said, he pulled his hand away holding a Wayne State Police patch. “I don’t know how the patch got there. It was just such a wow moment. We just had to do something with it,” Zdankiewicz said. “We took that seat out and took it to the upholstery shop and had it made up to memorialize Collin with the department colors and embroidered the seat with his end of watch date. That’s the patch we used on the seat.”
Team Woodhaven presented that seat to Salgot and Powell during their March 11 fundraiser at Woodhaven Community Center before placing it back inside the bus.
“It’s not just a bike ride. It is another great showing of the love and support from that blue family,” Salgot said. “Every rider rides for a fallen officer and presents the family with a bracelet showing that family their officer is still important. The funds raised ensure every fallen officer is able to be provided their rightful place on those marble walls. Every family left behind understands how important those walls are; and the Unity Tour ensures those who have laid down their lives, are not forgotten.”
“The biggest irony of the whole thing is Collin was really a champion of the cause,” Zdankiewicz said, adding the Unity Tour motto is ‘We ride for those who died.’ “The whole purpose of the Unity Tour is to remember those officers who died. He was truly somebody who believed how important it was. I saw him two weeks before he died at another officer’s funeral. It’s heartbreaking, I know its cliché to say but Collin really was one of the good guys.”
Busch met Powell the first year she was involved in the Tour and met Rose in 2015. “What’s kind of neat about the Unity Tour is everyone is in same jersey, but everyone wears a patch from the agency you work for. When you’re riding on that first day with probably 500-600 people, you see a Michigan person and slow down and ride with them for a while.”
She got to know Rose better on the 2016 bus ride, describing him as very easy to talk to and positive in his outlook on life. “He was just a very funny, very genuine person. Obviously loved dogs because that’s all we ever talked about,” Busch said. “He was engaging and actually drew people to him because of his personality.”
She will be rooming with Salgot during the tour. “I met her last year when we arrived in D.C. because she was at the memorial when we rode in and that’s when Nikki and Collin got engaged.”
When Busch and her husband, Detroit Police Sgt. Mark Busch, heard about Rose being shot, she reached out to fellow officers and headed to the hospital. “One of my troopers responded to the scene and told us about it,” Busch said. “That’s when I started making notifications to my Police Unity Tour brothers just to get the word out there and get to the hospital. My husband went into work. He said, ‘I’ve got to go in and see what I can do.’”
As time passes, police presence remains with Salgot, displaying the solidarity of the badge. Powell knows Police Week will be a rollercoaster for Salgot, but officers will be by her side to support her and all the other survivors of those who died in the line of duty. “We’re trying to plan the trip so we can meet one of the dogs in Pennsylvania that got a protective vest donation in Collin’s memory,” Powell said. “I think it will be really tough for her.”