June Mellon visits with Rabbi Mari Betcher before taping a segment for the Police Chaplain Project in Austin, Texas. Both June and Marie have been critical to establishing the Police Chaplain Project as a source of inspiration and education for our nation's police chaplains.
Yes, there may be times when security issues at a line-of-duty funeral become very important.
It should be obvious but the funeral coordinator should let the experts make the determination of any potential security threats and how they should be handled. The coordinators job is to work within these guidelines and manage and coordinate the funeral planning process.
I often encountered security directors for government officials who insisted having their people in close proximity to their boss at all times. Not a problem, once they told me what they needed and I could inform the traffic and seating coordinators etc.
The most common problem was having these security directors calling me a couple of hours before the services started and telling me what they needed. Doable? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. I found that when government officials said they wee going to attend, I always contacted their office directly and talked to their security director and insured we had a mutually acceptable plan.
Fears of Retaliation
Another security concern I encountered was when the officer who was killed was involved in an incident that involved the arrest or wounding or killing of one or more suspects, often gang members.
Then we were concerned with retaliation. This is when I relied upon the SWAT commander, intelligence unit, bomb squad etc. to be responsible for developing and implementing a security plan. Then I could manage the funeral around that. Many times the funeral plan was difficult to manage because of time restraints placed on keeping the church or auditorium closed until the bomb dogs etc. could clears it and then keeping it closed.
Factor in Multiple Locations
Other security issues involved motorcade routes that had to be evaluated for threats also. Then the interment location. And the reception. And the agency headquarters. The deceased officer’s home had to be protected also. The officers on patrol had to be especially vigilant. The list goes on.
Security has to always be a consideration. Even if the incident involving the deceased officer doesn’t have any potential threats inherent to it, there may still be a person or group that wants to attack the police. And what better place then a funeral formation?
Funeral coordinators need to plan for the unexpected. If not you, who?
Over the years I have noticed that Chaplains speak soulfully from the heart in a manner that is measured, thoughtful. In short they are the embodiment of everything that is missing from modern discourse.
They invest language with a kind of grace that is immediately distinguishable from 90 percent of what we hear and see through the media.
Through the Police Chaplain Project we are creating content that will offer future generations a substantive alternative to the spoiled children of billionaires and want-to-be reality TV contestants that daily accumulate on the web.
Leaving a meaningful and dignified digital legacy is in our hands.
Please help us tell of the quiet acts of courage, kindness and heroism that are the foundation of chaplaincy.
Program Director, Phillip LeConte