SCOTTSBORO, AL (WAFF) - Scottsboro Police Chief Ralph Dawe posted a press release on social media explaining that the department will be less involved in funeral escorts until further notice.
The release states they will use one patrol officer to assist funeral processions through the first major intersection upon exiting the facility.
Though, one family says not even that service was available to them.
Trayce West tells 48 News that minutes before her son-in-law, Dustin Ray Knopps, was laid to rest the family found out Scottsboro Police would not be escorting the family to the gravesite.
“It was very disrespectful to anyone...not to mention the fact that it was veteran," expressed West.
Dawe says the change is due to manpower shortages and increased traffic, therefore the department cannot provide safe funeral escorts. He says there are about three or four funerals per day while other emergency calls are coming in.
“Then, we are faced with the decision of leaving the planned escort or conducting it with fewer officers causing a safety hazard. This makes it very difficult to safely conduct a funeral escort and risk injury to the procession participants, other motorists and patrol officers.”
The busy intersection on Highway 72 & County Park Road was the only area the family needed officer help, West told our newsroom.
In the release, Dawe says it takes between four and six officers to safely conduct a funeral escort in Scottsboro.
Dawe says the department is already short four officers and current officers can call in sick or may have scheduled time off. He also says some more officers may be leaving or retiring in the near future.
“We regret to suspend the traditional escort service that the Police Department has provided for many years; however, we must keep safety as our top priority. We are committed to serving the community in the most productive and safest way possible.”
WAFF 48 reached out to several law enforcement agencies across North Alabama who all sang a similar song.
From Madison County to Franklin County, all agencies offer funeral escorts but with different approaches. Though, across the board officials say the service is only offered upon availability.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office uses three to four off-duty deputies paid for by the funeral home.
Huntsville Police also uses three to four officers paid for by the funeral home.
Morgan County offers a free service with one to two deputies.
Both Lauderdale and Franklin County’s offer at least one deputy free of charge.