They did not even know Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden, but they still came to honor her.
Hundreds of law enforcement officials from all over the Midwest came to Columbia on Tuesday to offer their support for Bowden and her family.
Bowden died Thursday after spending four weeks in the hospital. She had been shot multiple times in the neck and shoulder on Jan. 10 during a traffic stop at Nifong and Forum boulevards.
“We wanted to honor our sister,” Officer Louis Phillips of Kansas City said. “This is one of those things that can just as easily happen to you. So, we are here to show how much we respect her and her service.”
At Mizzou Arena, police cars from law enforcement departments all over the state filled the parking lot, prepared to escort Bowden’s casket to her burial.
“There is no way to explain the emotion that we feel around this situation,” said Officer Wes Harris, also of Kansas City. “Unless you have been a part of it, you would not understand.”
It is that emotional bond among police officers, Harris said, that brought representatives from as far as the Kentucky and Texas highway patrols to Bowden’s funeral.
A group of 75 Columbia and Boone County officials followed Bowden’s service from Emmitsburg, Md. As the service started in Columbia, the group took a break from its training at the National Emergency Training Center. Dough Schwandt, assistant chief of the MU Police Department, provided a eulogy. He also read the same passages that were read at the Columbia service.
Ashland Police Chief Scott Robbins paused Tuesday morning outside the Columbia Police Department to admire a memorial created by Bowden’s friends and co-workers on the front steps of the station.
Robbins and fellow Ashland Officer Dal Dubois came to Columbia to help local police, most of whom were at the funeral, patrol the city for the rest of the day.
“Boone County law enforcement is a real tight family,” Robbins said. “I did not know her, but just her being a part of the police community really brings this whole thing even closer to home.”
While potential danger is always a possibility when one works as a police officer, Robbins said, knowing there are hundreds of other law enforcement officials supporting each other brings the entire community closer together.
“Something like this can only make us stronger as a community,” he said. “Without that kind of bond, we would never make it.”