The Hennepin County Medical Examiner reportedly prevented a law enforcement honor guard from accompanying a fallen officer because of COVID-19 concerns, according to a letter released this week.
Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said law enforcement agencies across the state have “an important tradition of providing an Honor Guard following the death of law enforcement personnel.”
“This activity means fallen officers are not alone until the burial, and provides honor and dignity,” Peters said in a letter to Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker.
“We have been notified that an Honor Guard was turned away and prevented from being inside to provide their service, as [is] usual custom, from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office within the last month,” he continued. “This is, as you might recognize, extremely disappointing not only to me, but to other law enforcement personnel.”
Peters said he couldn’t find any COVID-19 guidelines on the medical examiner’s website that would prohibit an honor guard from entering. Other facilities in the Twin Cities are allowing honor guards inside to “continue their important service and tradition in a safe and respectful manner,” he said.
“I urge any policy of disallowing Honor Guards from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, if so created, to be revised to allow Honor Guards to safely proceed and be allowed inside, in a socially distanced and responsible way, to align with other medical examiner’s offices, so a fallen hero can be honored,” Peters concluded.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association represents more than 10,000 public safety officials, making it the largest association of public safety professionals in Minnesota.
Peters said he will share Baker’s response when it is received.
Letter to Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office on turning away Honor Guard. pic.twitter.com/7Ekz5efL6O
— Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (@MNPoliceAssn) October 8, 2020