Missouri law enforcement organization helps families of fallen officers

Published: Jan. 10, 2021 at 9:33 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2021 at 10:24 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Last year, The Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team covered six out of the eight officers killed in the line of duty.

”We’ve handled the most line of duty deaths in Missouri since 2005, when we had eight. Prior to that was 1991, when we had eight officers killed in Missouri,” said Les Kerr with The Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team.

Team Leader Les Kerr said the volunteer organization helps agencies and families plan a full service funeral and gives them the chance to grieve.

“You want to help your brothers and sisters to provide a service full of honors, and that’s why having at team made up of proud law enforcement personal is really taking care of your own,” said Kerr.

He said, out of the eight law enforcement officers who passed away in 2020, four were from COVID-19, two were shot and two were a vehicle crash.

Kerr says because of the pandemic, some funerals don’t look like they normally do.

”It is unfortunate for the family, agency and community when we are restricted to numbers within a facility because traditionally a line of duty death would bring hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of people to a line of duty death service. Now we’re only getting low hundreds,” said Kerr.

The organization assisted with three law enforcement deaths in the Ozarks.

Springfield Police Officer Christopher Walsh who was shot on duty in March. Greene County Detention Officer Dwight Willis passed away from COVID-19 complications in November, while Lebanon Police Officer Kendle Blackburn who passed away from the virus in late-December.

Elsewhere in Missouri:

  • Sergeant Herschel Turner with the Moline Acres Police Department passed away in December after getting struck by a vehicle.
  • Sheriff Andy Deric Clark DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office passed away in a car crash in June.
  • Police Officer Tamarris Leon-Wesley Bohannon with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was shot in the line of duty in August.
  • Correctional Officer Richard Allen Wright with the Missouri Department of Corrections and Major Rickie A. Groves with the Kennett Police Department passed away from COVID-19.

Kerr said the job doesn’t get any easier.

”Why do we do it? Because an officer that dies in the line of duty deserves to have professional honors and we just want to ensure that they are honored the way a hero deserves to be honored,” said Kerr.

The Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team was founded in 2008. Kerr said each funeral can cost up to $5,000, but the family or agency is not charged. The organization runs on donations.

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