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City softens policy that eliminates free funeral processions

Franklin officials softened a new policy that eliminates the longstanding tradition of on-duty police officers providing free escorts for funeral processions, according to a city spokesperson.

"Chief [David] Rahinsky agreed to offer assistance through busy intersections from on-duty officers if they happen to be in the area of the procession,” Milissa Reierson, communications manager for the city of Franklin, said in a statement released to media following a Dec. 14, meeting with area funeral directors. “A call to police dispatch indicating the general time of the process could be made by the funeral home to help facilitate this assistance.”

Representatives from three of the four funeral homes that operate in Franklin attended the meeting, along with Mayor Dr. Ken Moore, Rahinsky, Deputy Police Chief Carl Smith, and City Administrator Eric Stuckey.

The city also offered the option of having only one off-duty officer for processions, instead of two as originally announced, Reierson said. Off-duty police officers are available to escort funeral processions for $35 per hour, with a two-hour minimum. Five dollars for each hour worked is paid to the FPD to help offset gasoline costs and “wear and tear” on the city-owned police vehicles, according to Rahinsky.

The meeting was in response to concerns raised after Rahinsky formalized the policy to halt free escorts in an email dated Dec. 3, to Pam Stephens, owner of the Williamson Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home. Stephens voiced her objection to the policy change at the Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting Dec. 11.

“I want to make very clear that the escort is not for our company,” Stephens said at the BOMA meeting. “It is for someone's mother, father, brother, sister, child, or friend. This is not for the funeral home.”

Posted on: 12/18/2012


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