Clinton police paying it forward to Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Last year was a deadly year for law enforcement officers in Missouri with four line of duty deaths.

Carrying out just one police funeral is a major undertaking. But there's an incredible organization based right here in the metro that helps heroes have the send-off they deserve.

And now, one agency that's benefited from their services is paying it forward.

There's nothing quite like a funeral service for a fallen officer from the motorcade and patriotism to seeing communities come together.

"It's overwhelming. It's inspirational. It's sad. But the funeral team manages to do something beautiful with something that's such a tragedy," said Sgt. Shane Lawson with the Clinton Police Department.

The team he's talking about is the Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team.

Lawson knows the magnitude of what they do firsthand. He mourned his friend and co-worker Officer Gary Michael in 2017. And in 2018, he was in the thick of the shooting that killed Officer Ryan Morton.

"There's no price tag you can put on the services they offered us," Lawson said.

For eight years, the team based in Kansas City has deployed to help lift the burden of planning and executing final farewells. After a similar team in St. Louis recently folded, the group here will now cover law enforcement funerals statewide.

" It'​s very expensive when we go out and we don't have a steady funding stream," said Les Kerr, team leader with the Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team.

Fundraisers help cover the costs.

"From casket flags to white ceremonial gloves, the black badge shrouds," Kerr said.

Volunteers use their own vehicles to haul a trailer full of gear all over Missouri.

"We have 20 of these containers. Each carries things vital to us carrying out our mission," Kerr said.

Lawson knows the funeral assistance team could really use its own truck to haul the trailer when they're called upon. So Clinton officers started a Facebook fundraiser as a token of their appreciation to help a group that's stood by them through grief and healing.

"My hope is that truck never has to move. I hope it sits in parking spot with 7 miles on it, and it rusts into the ground. But unfortunately, there will probably come a day where they need to use that truck, and I'd like to them to not have to worry about that," Lawson said.

The funeral assistance team is incredibly grateful for the gesture and said it's another reminder of why they back the blue.

"They don't know when they walk out the door in the morning if they're going to be back at night. So they deserve every honor they can get," Kerr said.

If you'd like to donate to the funeral assistance team, you can do so online here.

Checks may also be sent to the Clinton Police Department, made out to Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team, 101 E. Ohio Street, Clinton, Mo. 64735 or sent to the team directly at 9425 N Gower Ave, Kansas City, Mo. 64154.

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