A tradition of having a law enforcement escort for funeral processions in Lexington will continue, but under a different chain of command. The Fayette County Sheriff's office took over funeral escorts Monday, a job that had long been handled by the Lexington Division of Police. Sheriff Kathy Witt says her staff was happy to oversee the free service in the wake of police budget cuts.
"It's a way for us to pay respect to our citizens. But it's also public safety, because the escorts sometimes are very long. Lots of times they will have people in them who are not from Lexington."
Sheriff Witt says although her staff is much smaller, the new duties will require no additional resources. Deputies trained with Lexington police for a about three weeks.
"We first shadowed them for a couple of days to watch the routes they take from the different funeral homes or churches to the cemeteries. And then we started actually doing the escorts with them."
Last year more than 2,000 free funeral escorts cost Lexington Police about 8,000 man hours. Sheriff Witt says the funeral processions will be handled by regular on-duty field staff.