September 5, 2018 Brigitte Ganger

What is a Police Funeral Procession?

Questions and answers about funeral escort motorcades

What is a Police Funeral Procession?
TORONTO, CANADA - AUG 27: An honour guard walks along the hearse carrying Jack Layton through the streets of Toronto to his state funeral Aug 27, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario. (Shutterstock)

Have you ever seen a motorcade pass by while driving in traffic? A motorcade is a group of vehicles—usually the police—that escort a vehicle to a specific destination. Motorcades exist for a variety of reasons: to safely transport the president, to provide protection for celebrities or other high-ranking individuals. 

However, a police funeral procession is a special kind of motorcade. If you've ever seen a group of police on motorcycles and in police cruisers following a hearse, you may have wondered why. 

What is a funeral procession?

A funeral procession is when a group of vehicles filled with funeral attendees follow each other to or from a funeral service.

Why do police escort some funeral processions?

There are several reasons why police escort some funeral processions. Sometimes, police will escort a funeral procession for safety reasons. For example, if the funeral party is particularly large and might disrupt traffic—or takes place late at night—police officers may follow the cars to ensure they reach their destination safely. Police will also escort a funeral procession if it was a high-profile funeral vulnerable to violence or attack. Additionally, some families can hire police officers, or private security contractors, to escort their funeral procession with a motorcade or police vehicles.

NEW YORK - JAN 13 2017: NYPD Det. Steven McDonald funeral procession and service at St Patricks Cathedral, 5th Avenue, Manhattan - Hearse and funeral procession motorcade leaves St Patricks Cathedral. (Shutterstock)

Who can have a police funeral procession? 

Because some police officers can be hired to escort a funeral procession, technically any deceased person can have a police escort. However, there are times when police either decide of their own volition or are required to escort a funeral procession. Police officers oftentimes will escort funeral processions if the deceased is a well-known person, current or former president or high-profile celebrity. 

Sometimes this police escort is conducted out of respect for a fellow fallen officer; other times a funeral procession is intended to protect mourners from traffic danger, protests or potential attacks, as in the case of high-profile criminals or controversial figures.

Most famous police funeral processions

Police escort many funeral processions, but two of the most famous of these were for Ronald Reagan and Elvis Presley. Both of these funeral processions were huge, as they drew in crowds of loyal supporters for the former and fans for the latter.

A flank of guards

While sometimes reserved for celebrities, police funeral processions can be requested by nearly anyone. Depending on where stay and the laws in your area, it's likely that you can hire a police funeral procession for a loved one who has passed away. For many, this can be a wonderful tribute to one who respected law enforcement and appreciated the pomp and tradition of formal memorials. The next time you see a police funeral procession, be sure to pull to the side of the road to pay your respects. Regardless of who is being transported, they deserve to be honored.

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