Police, fire departments form honor guard

Published 8:32 pm Friday, July 10, 2009

For the first time in its history, the city of Demopolis has a police and fire honor guard. Last week, the honor guard worked through training exercises led by Officer Charles McWhirter of the Mount Juliet (Tenn.) Police Department. The Mount Juliet honor guard has appeared at Tennessee Titans football games as well as Christmas parades and other civic events.

The honor guard will not only serve at several civic functions, but will be a source of pride for the city.

“I think it’s a change in the right direction,” said Demopolis police chief Tommie Reese. “It puts Demopolis along the lines of Tuscaloosa as far as having a resource here that’s available to do ceremonies, Veterans Day memorials, parades, deaths in the line of duty as well as civilian employees’ deaths. We want to give honor to those and represent the city of Demopolis well. I think it’s a great thing.”

Email newsletter signup

McWhirter helped start an honor guard at his department in Tennessee and was willing to help Demopolis train its inaugural honor guard over a three-day period.

“We’ve been training each day from 8:00 to about 5:30 or 6:00,” he said. “I think they did well, getting a week’s worth of honor guard information over three days.

“It’s a way for public safety to get out and talk to the community. They see us in a different aspect and can communicate and relate to us. We can interact more with the public in this type of environment.”

For those who serve on the honor guard, it will mean service at a higher level, representing the city’s police and fire and rescue departments.

“They are an elite group,” Reese said. “This guard sets the standard; they are the foundation. Ten years from now or 20 years from now, when it has grown and expanded, they can say, ‘I was a founding member of the honor guard.’”

Reese said the guard would post an opening for a vacancy to be filled by a member of the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department. The honor guard currently consists of four policemen and one member of DFRD.

He added that there is a special honor guard patch to go on the honor guard uniform. The first assignment for the Demopolis Police and Fire Honor Guard will be at the first home game for Demopolis High School in the new stadium on Aug. 28, working in tandem with the DHS Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

“That will be a special day for Demopolis,” Reese said. “For us to present the Demopolis Police and Fire Honor Guard along with the school honor guard in that stadium, it’s going to be something else, a part of history.”