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Erik Burgess, Published December 04 2012

F-M police to be in force at funeral

COLD SPRING, Minn. – Law enforcement from the metro area will be paying their respects to a fallen fellow officer here today.

Several honor guard officers from Cass and Clay counties will be a part of the funeral procession for Cold Spring Officer Tom Decker, who was killed in the line of duty on Thursday. Authorities say Decker was ambushed and shot multiple times when he and his partner were checking on a man’s welfare.

Moorhead Sgt. Mike Detloff, team leader for the specially trained honor guard officers, said he and five other officers will be taking part in the full honors traditionally given to an officer killed in the line of duty.

They will be in the cemetery displaying the flags of the U.S., Minnesota, Moorhead Police and the Fraternal Order of Police, Detloff said.

“It is an honor to be able to assist in it,” he said, quoting the motto of the organization that trains them, the Law Enforcement Memorial Association. “The best that we can do is the least that we can do for the fallen officer and for the family.”

Detloff said the memorial association will be handling most of the other duties, such as folding the U.S. flag and presenting it to Decker’s family, as well as firing a three-volley salute. Moorhead will bring an officer who plays bugle in case the LEMA buglers are unable to perform the ceremonial taps, he said.

Fargo police will also be sending four honor guard officers, but they will not be actively participating in any of the full honors, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

Cass County and Clay County sheriffs will also be sending several deputies and squad cars to ride along in the 15-mile funeral procession, which will travel from St. John’s Abbey, through the town of Cold Spring, ending at St. Nicholas Cemetery.

Detloff said the procession will be made of hundreds of police vehicles, and that it’s not uncommon for local residents of all ages to line the streets and watch silently as the cars pass by. Up to 2,000 officers from around the country could attend Decker’s funeral.

“It’s humbling to see the respect that’s paid to a fallen officer,” Detloff said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518