Eight miles of mourners to pay respects to slain Minnesota police officer
Police officer Scott Patrick devoted his career to protecting the people of Mendota Heights, Minn. Now, in the aftermath of his shooting death last week, law enforcement officials are asking the public to pay its respects by lining a nearly 8-mile-long funeral procession route Wednesday.
"The family will want to see you out there," Doug Neville of the state Department of Public Safety said on Monday. "It means a lot."
Officials expect 3,000 to 5,000 mourners -- family, friends and law enforcement officers from across Minnesota -- to attend Patrick’s funeral at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in West St. Paul.
Problem is, the church sanctuary holds only 350.
Despite that logistical challenge, officials with the Law Enforcement Memorial Association (LEMA) and the state Department of Public Safety on Monday made plans to accommodate police and sheriff’s departments and state troopers by erecting tents and installing two massive LED television "walls" outside the church.
They also encouraged those waiting along the 7.8-mile route from the church to Acacia Park Cemetery in Mendota Heights to be patient.
Thousands of police officers will lead the procession, which will wind through the streets of Mendota Heights and West St. Paul. About 20 to 30 minutes later, Patrick’s family will follow, along with a horse-drawn caisson carrying his body.
The public is invited to Patrick’s visitation on Tuesday, from 2 to 8 p.m., at the church. Parking will be available at Henry Sibley High School on Delaware Avenue, with shuttle buses ferrying mourners to and from St. Stephen’s, located at 1575 Charlton in West St. Paul.
The funeral will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday. While church seating is limited to family, friends and Patrick’s colleagues, the service will be streamed on YouTube.
The procession will leave the church around noon and head north on Charlton to Butler Avenue, east to Dodd Road, south to Mendota Heights Road, then west to Lemay Lake Road and into the cemetery.
Just before 1 p.m., a cemetery bell will toll 272 times, once for each Minnesota law enforcement officer who has died in the line of duty. Another bell will ring 22 times -- for each year Patrick served in law enforcement.
Outside the church Monday, Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen was taking measurements for the tents that will be erected. 3M Co. is donating the tents for use; area school districts are lending the chairs. Beahen said he hopes to find donors to offset the $12,000 cost of the television walls.
"There is no way Mendota Heights can pay for this," he said. "We are hoping people step forward."
To donate to LEMA, go to: www.mnlema.org/index.php/donations.