Funeral escorts to continue in Summerville, despite liability concerns

Summerville Police will continue funeral escorts provided the Department has enough off-duty officers to safely cover the intersections along the route.

The Town’s Public Safety Committee met this week to hear from the Chief of Police Jon Rogers.   Funeral escorts require between six to 13 officers for the most popular routes for funerals in town, according to Chief Rogers. Chief Rogers told the committee offering this service is not in the best interest of the town, and officers could be held liable should a wreck happen. He also worried about officers getting enough rest between shifts if they are volunteering for escorts.

Despite concerns, the committee voted to up officer’s pay for funeral escorts from $50 to $100 per funeral.  The pay was one of the barriers to getting off-duty officers to volunteer to escort. Officers volunteered for 197 funerals last year.

Chief Rogers  sent a survey to police before the meeting.  One question asked on the survey is if the town increased the pay, would they be more inclined to sign up? More than half of the officers responded “no.”

Councilman Aaron Brown pointed out other jurisdictions are providing the service, and he said,  “I think that’s very, very important.”

Councilman Walter Bailey said he thinks the practice ought to be terminated, citing concerns with liability.

In the end, the motion to continue the escort services passed unanimously.

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