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Police escorts for funerals

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

Police escorts for funerals

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
November 9, 2009

When is the last time you saw a police escort for a funeral in McHenry County?

Normally, the funeral director's vehicle would have a flashing amber light and lead a funeral procession to the cemetery. The lead car approaches traffic lights and stop signs carefully, stopping at red lights. All cars in the procession should have headlamps lighted, and cars behind the funeral director's vehicle are permitted to drive through red lights carefully.

You seldom see a police car in a funeral procession, unless it's a procession for an officer who died in the line of duty.

But this morning there was a funeral procession westbound on U.S. 14, coming from the direction of Crystal Lake and heading in the direction of Harvard. Leading the procession were two police cars; the first one was a marked squad car from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and the second one was a black-and-white squad car.

Bringing up the rear of the procession was another black-and-white unit and two more squad cars from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

My attention was initially attracted by a McHenry County Sheriff's Department squad car stopped on the shoulder of U.S. 14, just east of Route 47. There was no violator stopped in front of it, and the car was stopped as if the driver were waiting for someone or something.

As the procession went westbound between Route 14 and Dean Street, drivers of eastbound cars on Route 14 pulled over and stopped, when they saw the the emergency lights of the approaching westbound squad cars. Even though drivers are not required to pull over and stopped, unless necessary to allow an emergency vehicle to pass safely, they do it anyway.

Several issues came to mind. Why were there five marked police cars in a funeral procession? Was the deceased a person with some important relationship to the Sheriff's Department?

Why were all five police cars using emergency lights? Is the use of emergency lights in a funeral procession even authorized?

Why were there three McHenry County Sheriff's Department vehicles in the procession? Presumably they were occupied by employees of the Sheriff's Department.

Were these employees who had a working relationship with the deceased that warranted use of County vehicles in a funeral procession? Or were they friends of the deceased? And if friends, should they not have been off-duty and in their own personal vehicles?

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