The city of Clarksville has changed a long standing policy that will limit the number of cars in a police escorted funeral procession.
Beginning this week, only six cars can follow behind the hearse and be escorted through traffic lights by a police escort.
“For some folks it will be [a big deal]. Some of the family appreciates and expects the police escort because it's sort of a rite of passage, some family members think, to have that escort to the cemetery,” said Ed Lawson, director of McReynolds, Nave and Lawson Funeral Home.
He continued, “We're still southern, traditional here and folks come to expect this from the police department, sheriff's department to be escorted to their final resting place.”
Clarksville Police Chief Al Rivers Ansley met with several funeral home directors before making the change that went into effect this week.
The policy states that six cars may follow behind the hearse which is led through traffic by a single officer. The last car in the procession must be clearly marked. Cars behind those will have to obey all traffic laws, including stopping at red lights.
Lawson said in most cases, the new policy will prevent some family members from following close enough to stay with the procession through traffic.
“By the time you add a clergy car, a minister car, that's leaves five family cars. Or if you've got two preachers, you've got two preacher cars, the hearse, that leaves only four family cars” said Lawson.
“I really don't have a clear answer to what's going to happen to the cars behind the initial cars. I mean, there's no way to keep people from pulling in behind.”
The new change was put in place as a concern to public safety.