The Lakeland Police Honor Guard was formed in the late 1980’s. The motto of the unit is “Semper Memoria”, which is Latin for Always Remember. The Honor Guard represents the Department, its officers and families at law enforcement funerals, parades and other ceremonial occasions – both solemn and festive. It is dedicated to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with members of the public safety community during times of celebration and emotional duress. A position on the unit is part-time and is currently made up of 23 members.
While all police officers have a dress uniform, the Lakeland Police Honor Guard has two distinctive uniforms that sets it apart from other members of the department. This is to signify the commitment that its members make to fulfill the honor guard’s mission. One uniform consists a long sleeve white dress shirt and accessories that is primarily worn for Color Guard assignments and posting of colors at special events. The full dress blue uniform consists of a different style dress pant and US Marine Corp style high collar coat with accessories. This uniform is worn mainly for funeral and memorial events that the Honor Guard participates in and/or attends.
The Honor Guard Unit members can be assigned to a number of intra-unit teams with varying responsibilities:
The Color Guard: A four to six-officer complement whose center-marching members serve as bearers of the Stars and Stripes and all secondary flags; two rifle-bearing members flank the flag-bearers.
Flag Detail/Casket Detail: Seven members (six officers addressing the American flag and a team leader) designated to fold the flag at the interment ceremony. The team leader is charged with handing-off the folded flag to the Chief of Police (or designee) for presentation to the family. The Casket Detail is responsible for standing guard over a fallen officer until laid to rest. The detail is also responsible for movement or carry of the casket. The detail performs their duty using silent commands when posting and relieving the detail members.
The Rifle Team: Eight members (seven riflemen and a team leader), charged with the execution of three-volley during burial ceremonies.
Other Honor Guard ceremonial events include:
The main mission of the honor guard is to properly honor one of our own, such as Officer Arnulfo Crispin in December 2011. Police funerals are deep in tradition and history that coincides with many military funerals.
The unit’s other mission is to represent the Lakeland Police Department at community events, award ceremonies, at the police officer’s memorial ceremony and to attend funerals for officers killed in the line of duty. The members of the honor guard must be ready to attend events at all times, since they do not know when they will be called upon for service.
The members of the unit stand ready to pay their respects to officers that pay the ultimate price for their community. Since its inception, Honor Guard members have attended dozens of funerals at agencies all over Florida. Members take this mission seriously as it is our opportunity to honor the fallen officer and to pay our respect to the family.