The Scottsboro Police Department’s regular procedure for funeral escorts has been scale back, according to Police Chief Ralph Dawe.
“We regret to suspend the traditional escort service that the police department has provided for many years,” said Dawe. “However, we must keep safety as our top priority.”
Dawe said the police department will use one patrol officer to assist the funeral procession through its first major intersection upon exiting the facility.
“The change is due to manpower shortages and increased traffic causing the inability to provide safe funeral escorts,” said Dawe.
Dawe said the police department conducts approximately 300 funeral escorts per year.
“The problem arises when we are already shorthanded with four patrol officer openings and current shift officers calling in sick or scheduled to be off,” said Dawe. “A couple more officers may be leaving in the near future for retirement or other employment opportunities.”
Dawe said there can be three-to-four funeral escorts per day while other emergency calls are still coming in that require immediate police assistance. He added that the police department averages 30 calls per day.
“Then, we are faced with the decision of leaving the planned escort or conducting it with fewer officers causing a safety hazard,” said Dawe. “This makes it very difficult to safely conduct a funeral escort and risk injury to the procession participants, other motorists and patrol officers.”
Dawe said it takes at least four officers and up to six officers to safely conduct a funeral escort in the city. He said other considerations include school traffic areas and high traffic periouds such as weekday afternoons.
“We are committed to serving the community in the most productive and safest way possible,” said Dawe.