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Bulloch Local Government

Statesboro Council restores funeral processions with limitations

The Statesboro City Council met for a special called meeting Thursday morning to discuss an ordinance that would allow the Statesboro Police Department to provide on-duty officers and resources for funeral processions.


The City previously suspended SPD police escort services for funeral processions just a week ago after it was discovered that not having an ordinance and policy in place allowing such activities left the city open to huge liability concerns.

Mayor Jan Moore said cities are regularly plagued with lawsuits after wrecks during funeral processions and the lacking policy left the citizens of Statesboro open to considerable risk.

Moore began by explaining to meeting attendees, which included two members of the public, two funeral industry representatives, administrators from the Statesboro Police Department, and members of the press, that she recently spoke with Sheriff Noel Brown about the exchange of resources. Together they decided that, due to the short staffing in both agencies, it would be in the best interest of the community for the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office to assist the SPD, and vice versa, when resources are available. There is no formal agreement outlined, but more of an understanding for inter-agency help.

Line by line, the ordinance was read with the following specifications:

  • Funeral service providers must request SPD escorts within the city limits through a formal process, with 24-hour notice, except for Sunday & Monday funerals, which must be filed by the previous FRiday at 1:00 P.M.
  • The SPD police cheif has discretion on routes, resources, and cancellations, should another emergency arise
  • SPD will provide 2 officers, with hope that BCSO and/or GSP will help, if necessary. However, additional needs known ahead of time must be pre-arranged and off-duty officers will be hired at the expense of the funeral director service.
  • Funeral processions will be expected to abide by all traffic laws, including stop signs and red lights.

The most notable change is the lack of exemption to obey traffic laws by funeral processions.

At this time, the city cannot guarantee that all intersections will be managed by an officer or deputy, either. Moore said her hope is that the “heart of the community will shine through” and allow processions to stay together while other traffic stops, but it is not something that can be outlined in the ordinance at this time.

According to Deputy Chief Rob Bryan, the Statesboro Police Department is actively working to pre-plan the best routes in consideration of traffic and traffic signals.

The ordinance also provides for the possibility of an individual establishing a private funeral escort service, in which the company is authorized and contracted with the funeral home. The service must be licensed by the state of Georgia, carry a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability insurance, and properly train employees with equipped vehicles.

Before a motion was made on the ordinance, Moore told the room she was glad the situation resolved itself the way it did. “On one level, as ugly and as bad and as political unsavory as this whole thing has been, it has allowed us to correct a fundamental flaw that could have hurt the citizens of Statesboro. So I’m okay with that. I’m okay with working through it and finding a solution.”

The motion to approve the ordinance passed unanimously. Councilman Travis Chance was not present.

The City and funeral service providers are asking the community to help raise awareness about the change in traffic law compliance for funeral processions.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. richard rice

    April 6, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    under state law, funeral processions may not impede local traffic patterns except for intersections crossed by processions escorted by police and/or controlled by traffic officers. although stopping for processions may give the impression of respect for the person, it is expected that traffic not stop, (not required by law) travelling in another direction as doing so may cause personal injury or death. see 40-6-76 as it states numerous persons have been injured or killed by persons stopping for funeral processions traveling in opposite directions from the procession and not a requirement to stop. local authorities that run people off the road and block unused traffic lanes are a violation of the law and could cause injury or death by doing so and have no authority to do so. also, members of the procession are in violation of traffic laws when using 4 way flashers are this practice is a violation of motor vehicle operator laws. only emergency and commercial vehicles may use 4 way flashers while operating a vehicle on the highways. you are also allowed to pass a procession as long as there are 2 or more lanes travelling in the same direction.

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