SPRINGFIELD, Mo. On a sad occasion like Thursday's funeral service for Greene County deputy Aaron Roberts, the community's support shows up in many ways.
No one can take away the hurt that engulfs the family and friends, but people reach out in any way they can including making financial donations and helping to organize the funeral services.
One place you notice it comes three hours before the funeral in a parking lot near the sheriff's department on Boonville Avenue. For as far as the eye can see, law enforcement cars are pulling into the procession to the church in a solemn and emotional scene. Among the dozen or so onlookers taking in the scene is City Utilities communications manager Joel Alexander, because CU buses as well as those from several area school districts like Willard and Fair Grove are here to transport visiting law enforcement officials and government employees to the service.
"You see the hurt in all their eyes as they were leaving and it gets your right in your heart, it really does," Alexander said. "And you feel for all of them. When it comes down to it, we're a community. We're a family. And when you have a tight-knit community and an extremely tight-knit law enforcement community and county employees, it's a time to come together to help."
And that help comes from many areas. For instance, Greene County's Office of Emergency Management works with the sheriff's department to coordinate all the logistics while out-of-town officers also provide assistance.
"When you're dealing with a funeral such as this, there's a lot of protocol and a lot of things have to be done right," explained Greene Co. Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin. "The sheriff has a great team but it's being supplemented by other people who have come to help."
And many of those people are police officers from other towns.
"You have law enforcement officers that have come in from several hundred miles away to help take some of the pressure away from not only burying one of the county's own law enforcement officials, but just to take the pressure of putting that funeral together," Alexander said.
"Police officers will do anything to help other police officers," Cirtin added. "There will be people here this afternoon at this funeral from all over the country."
Cirtin is also president of the Greene Co. 100 club, a non-profit organization that donates money to families of law enforcement officers or firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.
"And it's important for us to do it immediately," he said. "And so I along with two other board members was able to give Mrs. Roberts a check for $25,000 on Saturday and told her she could spend that on anything she has need of because there are car payments and house payments and we don't want the family to have to struggle with finances."
Great Southern Bank also has accounts set up statewide for the public to make donations to the Roberts family.
And if you'd like to contribute to the 100-club fund, they have a website at www.greenecounty100club.com.
"Our mission is something we hope we never have to use," Cirtin said. "But this helps and there will be a lot more help from the community."