Three funerals planned for fallen heroes

(WISH Photo)
(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Rick Snyder knows this is an unfortunate time to use the word “blessed.” It shows in his face as he says it. But, to him, the word is appropriate as a state team coordinates three funerals.

Snyder is the 1st Vice President for the Fraternal Order of Police in Indianapolis. This week, his lodge is planning a funeral for IMPD Officer Perry Renn. Others on the team are planning services for Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield of Gary. Both were shot to death over the weekend. Monday, the critical incident team also guided the funeral for Tipton County Deputy Jacob Calvin. He died in a car crash at the end of June.

The ‘blessing’, in these examples, is that FOP Lodge 86, on South Shelby Street in Indianapolis is home to the “founder’ of the modern police funeral. Snyder said “the model that we do here in the State of Indiana is actually the model that is used throughout the entire United States. So Indiana, fortunately and unfortunately, has set the standard for how to do police line-of-duty funerals.”

Snyder described the challenges to 24-Hour News 8′s Teresa Mackin. He said the planning for Officer Renn’s service involves more than 100 people from “multiple different agencies” around central Indiana. The other departments are included “because a lot of these agencies are going to come in and help cover the city for our police officers — so that they can have their time to grieve and honor our fellow officer.”

That means, Snyder said, planning for 1500 IMPD officers and their families, planning for the attendance of officers from departments around the country and for the members of the community who want to offer a tribute to Officer Renn.

The public tributes come from people Snyder calls “the Silent Majority. We always stress that to our officers. You never really hear from a lot of these folks ’til something really bad happens. And then it’s overwhelming the way that they line the streets [and] come out and support our police department.”

Snyder said he is proud of the people who work so hard behind the scenes to consider every contingency to make sure a police officer’s funeral “always looks flawless.” They met Monday. He said they are likely to meet, again, on Wednesday. They consider everything from medical emergencies during the procession down to having “hundreds of boxes of Kleenexes” for the people who attend the service.

“When you watch one of the services, most people will tell you it’s one of the most beautiful thing and saddest thing they’ve ever seen, all in one package. And that’s because of the team that puts all this together,” Snyder said. “What’s sad is that we’ve become very good at it. It’s because we’ve had to do it so many times.”

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