Law Enforcement Funeral Manual.
Death is never easy. However, whenever it strikes within a law enforcement agency, it can have long-lasting effects on officers and administrators alike. Therefore, to cope with such a tragedy, it is imperative for an administrator to be prepared. Less than 100 pages long, the Law Enforcement Funeral Manual provides sample funeral services, memorials, poems, short readings, and hymns for use under a wide range of circumstances. Containing information gathered by the International Conference of Police Chaplains, the book presents administrators and law enforcement personnel with the tools to help promote healthy healing. In addition, this manual provides services for multiple religious beliefs. Overall, this concise, helpful book compiles components necessary to conduct a thoughtful and appropriate ceremony for a law enforcement funeral.
Chapter 1 provides a brief overview on how to notify family members or loved ones regarding the death of an officer. The author strongly suggests that the department enlist the services of a police chaplain when making notifications.
Chapter 2 describes the basic elements of the law enforcement funeral. The author examines U.S. flag etiquette and the use of pipe and drum corps, bugler, honor guard, badge mourning bands, flowers, and ribbons in detail. This chapter also offers special religious funeral considerations for those officers of varied beliefs (e.g., Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic).
Chapter 3 gives the law enforcement administrator the entire funeral services for officers killed in the line of duty, killed off duty, and retired. As part of the funeral service, the author provides prayers, scriptures, readings, hymns, and closing benedictions. In addition, this chapter provides necessary information on how the motorcade would proceed to the cemetery. This latter point often is overlooked in prior planning and policy determination.
While the first three chapters focus on the deaths of human officers, chapter 4 contains memorial services for law enforcement service animals. Although most agencies have existing policies regarding officer deaths, work dogs and horses rarely are mentioned, even though their deaths occur much more frequently. As a result, administrators often are at a loss as to how to handle these events. This chapter fills a much-needed void in the extant literature.
Chapter 5 offers those conducting memorial services poems, prayers, hymns, and short readings specifically designed for officers who have passed away. In addition, this chapter mentions the needs of the survivors and points out the necessity of advising family members and loved ones that the agency will be honoring the deceased officer in ceremonial fashion. To promote healthy healing, this chapter also focuses on survivor resources and support agencies.
In the appendices, the author provides a sample departmental policy or standard operating procedure model that can be modified quickly to assume the needs of the individual agency. Additionally, a funeral checklist contains the important components in a handy, to-do format, as well as a model for debriefing personnel after critical incidents.
The Law Enforcement Funeral Manual is a well-designed guide for police administrators. It is presented in a fashion that is acceptable to those having no experience in police funerals, as well as seasoned veterans and clergy alike. Although it is in sharp contrast to most law enforcement publications, the manual provides basic information that an agency can use to quickly and professionally prepare after tragedy strikes. It should be a necessary, if not totally welcome, addition to any law enforcement agency's library.
Reviewed by Charles Mesloh, Assistant Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University
Jennifer James-Mesloh, President, Advanced Research Solutions, Inc. Labelle, Florida