DAPHNE, Ala. (WKRG) – Some funeral home directors support this, while others don’t. Daphne’s police chief says there’s a good reason for the change.
“We ride with flags and we stand a silent flag line so that they can be honored. We’ve had as many as 3-5 show up. We’ve had sometimes 50-100 and some of our larger rides we do we’ve had well over 100,” said Richard Ullo with Patriot Guard Riders.
Their motorcycles, flags and patches are common to see any time a veteran or first responder passes.
“In order to give a final salute, stand a silent flag line for the loved ones,” Ullo explained.
But, a new policy put in place by the Daphne Police Department now limits funeral processions to 10 vehicles, affecting the way Patriot Guard Riders in south Alabama honor those who served.
“Our area includes the Mobile district, which is approximately 5 counties surrounding the Mobile area and this is the only jurisdiction that we have faced this struggle,” said Ullo.
Police Chief Brian Gulsby said the change was needed to help keep drivers and his officers safe.
“There’s been two officers killed doing funeral escorts just this year and several others severely injured across the United States,” said Chief Gulsby.
Daphne isn’t the only city in Alabama revisiting this policy. Tuscaloosa Police stopped escorting funeral processions in 2011 after an officer there was killed on the route. Chief Gulsby said he’s asked funeral directors to give his department advance warning if more vehicles are involved so they can decide if they’ll be able to provide an escort.
“There have been times in the past when the procession may be over a mile long,” he explained.
On June 19th Patriot Guard Riders plan to address the policy change with city leaders hoping they’ll reverse the decision.
“I don’t think that the City of Daphne’s intentions were at all bad when they made this policy. But, it’s something that has worked for many, many years in cities much larger than Daphne,” Ullo said.