Officer Molly Bowden’s police cruiser was draped in black as its radio crackled in the crisp air at Memorial Park Cemetery in Columbia on Tuesday afternoon.
“Columbia 295,” the dispatcher said. A seven-second pause. “Columbia 295,” the male voice repeated, followed by another pause. “Columbia 295.” Seven more seconds. “Columbia 295. Officer Molly Bowden, out of service. 1042.”
And with those words, more than 700 law enforcement officers from across Missouri and as far away as Texas saluted as “Taps” began to play.
With those words, Officer Bowden was officially called out of service to the Columbia Police Department.
The dispatch to Bowden’s car was part of a police tribute at the end of the burial services Tuesday. A procession snaked through the cemetery, American flags lining the path. Two police motorcycles, an honor guard and a band of bagpipes and drums ushered a horse-drawn carriage carrying Bowden’s flag-draped casket.
Officers from the Columbia Police Department trailed the carriage, followed by officers from departments around Missouri and elsewhere. They walked in rows of four, most carrying blue carnations, all with black bands stretching across their badges in memory of Bowden.
Other mourners followed, some carrying Bibles, some wearing pins with Bowden’s face on them, others wearing blue ribbons in her honor.
Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” as honor guards folded the flag that covered Bowden’s casket and presented it to her family. Visitors squinted into the sun to catch a glimpse of the two police helicopters that flew over the ceremony. The sea of black, navy and tan uniforms parted so Bowden’s family could see a firing squad shoot 21 times into the air.
After the police tribute, the firing squad members traded their rifles for blue carnations.
As the wind whipped up, they fell into line with the other officers who placed the carnations on top of the casket.