Cape Girardeau PD to reduce amount of funeral procession escorts - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau PD to reduce amount of funeral procession escorts

(Source: Jasmine Dell/KFVS) (Source: Jasmine Dell/KFVS)

It's very common to see police officers escorting funeral processions to the cemetery - but in Cape Girardeau, police say that's something they need to cut back on.

Chief Wes Blair said they participate in one to two funeral escorts every day, with each of those getting upwards of three officers. 

He said that then ties up those officers for an hour, when they should be on patrol.

He said the decision is two years in the making - and was further exacerbated by ongoing budget cuts.

While they will be cutting back on the processions, they won't eliminate them completely - instead participating in ones that detract the least from daily duties.

"If it's a large procession that's going to require heavy public safety resources to keep all the motoring public safe, we're still going to do those funeral escorts. It's not a blanket 'we're not going to do another escort again,'" said Blair.

Blair says that they've discussed this change with local funeral homes, who will be equipped to handle most of these funeral escorts on their own.

"They all do it in the surrounding areas, not just Jackson and Cape, but Marble Hill, Perryville, anyplace that has a police department," McCombs Funeral Director Christi Guilliams said.

It's a trend, some police departments in southeast Missouri have shown respect by escorting local funeral processions.

"But, Cape is changing their position on that and I understand a lot of things that went into that thought," Guilliams said. "They've got a big territory to cover in Cape Girardeau. We're fortunate in Jackson that they're still able to do the escorts for us, as they are in other smaller communities, but in larger cities you don't get an escort at all."

Blair said it's taking time away from officers doing patrol responsibilities.

"We realized that the bigger disservice to the community is having officers tied up for an hour on a funeral escort when there are calls for service that are holding that we really need to be answering those calls for service," he said.

Blair said you still might see the department escort funeral processions from time to time.

"We will still be doing large escorts, if there's a huge funeral that is really an impact to the motoring public then we will do those and take them on by a case by case basis."

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