The Farmington Police Department recently established an honor guard to promote decorum and professionalism at various events that may arise in the area.
Sgt. Bill Gammon and Officer Eric Spiker attended the Elmhurst Honor Guard Academy in Chicago, Illinois, where they trained in marching and drill maneuvers, rifle maneuvers, flag etiquette and procedures, and color guard maneuvers. The pair was also trained in funeral protocol and procedures such as silent casket guard, flag folding, casket carrying, guard processional, vehicle processional and burial service.
While the primary purpose of the honor guard is to honor and pay respect to a fallen officer, Gammon explained that the unit is also designed to be used at many types of events if the officers are available.
They participated in the Christmas Parade and the Country Days Parade. They also were at the funeral of Councilman John Crouch.
"We may eventually do sporting events for the National Anthem and Memorial Day services," he said.
One of the reasons Gammon and Spiker decided to create the honor guard was due to such a unit's unavailability in the area.
“Police honor guards — there’s not that many in this area,” Gammon said. “Cape Girardeau has an honor guard team. Between us and St. Louis, I don’t know if there’s any other. The sheriff’s department used to have one, but I’ve heard nothing about it lately.”
Gammon noted that frequent training is necessary to keep the officers in proper condition and retain precision for the different type of events to cover.
“I try to set up two times a month we train,” he said. “Over the winter it’s a lot harder because of the weather. We usually train outside, do marching and stuff like that. We’ve even went to funeral homes and worked on stuff there — how we would handle a funeral.”
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Whether setting aside training time or participating in an event, using a group of either four or seven officers can create scheduled duty concerns for a police department even the size of Farmington’s.
“Our training I usually try to schedule when our guys are off,” Gammon said. “We don’t want people working and take off to do training. We look at the schedule, see who’s available. The color guard, we only use four members.
"If we have to do a funeral, it’s going to have to be all hands on deck. We may have to adjust schedules, see who covers the road. We have a pretty good size department, the chief will work with us and get us where we’re available. The other officers are good at covering shifts.”
In keeping with tradition, the honor guard uses a Class A or dress uniform. These uniforms are different from normal street uniforms and includes a dress coat, belt, hat and white gloves. Other accessories and the styling were designed and picked out by Gammon and Striker. Additional equipment is also necessary to fill the needs of the honor guard, Gammon explained.
“We have the color guard, we have two flags,” he said. 'We obtained a couple of rifles from the government. They are M1 Garands, which are traditional with honor guards.”
Gammon intends for the honor guard to be available for other law enforcement agencies locally subject to approval from Police Chief Rick Baker and the availability of the officers involved.
Gammon gave credit to the city of Farmington for their cooperation and support in creating the Farmington Police Department Honor Guard.
“The city really worked with us and let us decide what to get,” he said. “The city administrator was really on board with getting this established.”