An estimated 3,000 people are expected to gather at Mizzou Arena today for the funeral of Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden. At a news conference Monday, police gave a detailed plan for today’s activities in response to the expected turnout.
Police and Columbia Public School District officials also made plans for managing traffic disruptions due to a procession after the funeral.
Plans for the funeral predict that the procession after the funeral will include between 300 and 500 police patrol cars and is expected to last about an hour, said Columbia police Capt. Sam Hargadine.
The motorcade will make its way to Memorial Park Cemetery at 2 p.m. The procession will exit the arena from Mick Deaver Memorial Drive to Providence Road and then head north on Providence Road to Business Loop 70, where it will turn west. The family will enter the funeral home and wait for the rest of the procession to arrive. The route will be closed to other traffic as soon as the procession begins. Sections of Business Loop 70 and Creasy Springs Road will remain closed during the burial service.
Hargadine said police will try to avoid traffic problems and requested patience from drivers inconvenienced by the procession.
Because of the timing of the motorcade, however, buses from the school district will be delayed. Blake Tekotte, transportation director for the district, said school administrators met Monday to map out alternative routes. He said all schools have been notified of the situation and are trying to smooth out the issue. The district is planning to let special-needs children out of school early, Tekotte said.
“The main objective is getting the kids home safe,” Tekotte said.
During the services, the closed casket will be placed at half-court on the floor of the arena. A small stage will be erected for the Rev. Michael Burt and other speakers, who will include former Gov. Roger Wilson and U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof. Gov. Matt Blunt will attend but will not speak.
Family and people close to Bowden will be seated on the floor of the arena. Police officers from across the state and beyond will be in the front-center section of the bleachers. Members of the public are invited to sit in the bleachers behind the police. The police requested no flash photography in the arena.
At the cemetery, the casket will be moved from the hearse into a horse-drawn carriage. The carriage, which will be covered with glass, will take Bowden to the burial ceremony. Columbia police officers will follow the carriage on foot in rows of four.
The ceremony will not be held at the gravesite because of the muddy ground and the large crowd that is expected, Hargadine said. Instead, it will be held in front of the cemetery’s mausoleums on the largest patch of pavement in the cemetery.
During the burial service, the family will be seated in a tent facing the casket. Bowden’s patrol car will be parked on a cemetery road just south of the service and will be used in the ceremonial last call. Police said that during the final call, the police dispatch will send a radio broadcast to Bowden’s car. After seven seconds and no answer, a second broadcast will be sent. This will be repeated the third and final time, and then the dispatch will call Bowden out of service.
Bowden is also being honored with other tributes. There will be a 21-gun salute and the ceremonial folding of the flag. Two bugle players from St. Louis will be playing “Taps.” The buglers and firing squad will be stationed near Bowden’s car.
In order to maintain police patrols and orderly traffic during the funeral, several Columbia police officers offered to work today. Deputies from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department will help block the streets for the procession, and the MU Police Department will help around the arena.
The viewing will be held at Mizzou Arena from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. today, and services will follow at 1 p.m. in the arena. The funeral is expected to last about 65 minutes, Hargadine said.