NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Funeral services were held Friday at Arkansas State University-Newport for Lt. Patrick Weatherford.
The 41-year-old police officer died in the line of duty Monday, June 12.
More than 1,100 people lined up outside the university's fine arts center Friday morning to pay their respects to a man who spent 15 years protecting and serving the citizens of his hometown.
Law enforcement officers from around Region 8 and beyond—including some as far away as Ft. Worth, TX—traveled to Jackson County to help lay their brother in blue to rest. Also attending the service were state and local dignitaries, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
"We're all cops, doesn't matter. Different uniforms different shield, but we're all cops and we just want to show support for the family, and for the rest of, you know, Arkansas," said Officer Brian Johnson of the New York Police Department.
Johnson is part of the Brotherhood of the Fallen. Their group sends officers to pay their respects anytime an officer is murdered in the U.S.
Before the somber service began, a lone bagpiper played a mournful tune as Lt. Weatherford's family walked to the front of the congregation.
The Honorable Judge Jeff Phillips of Jackson County opened the service with a prayer, invoking mourners to continue to pray and support the family and saying of Patrick, "We anticipate seeing him again in glory."
Other speakers included Hutchinson, Lt. Pat McGee (retired), Captain James Duvall (retired), and Robert Summers, dean for applied science at ASUN. Each of the men spoke of Weatherford's dedication to his family and his community.
"Patrick didn't live in this community, he lived for this community," Summers said of the man he met many years ago and encouraged to further his education.
"If you want to pay tribute to Patrick Weatherford, follow his example," Summers continued. "Serve unselfishly, serve bravely, always seek to improve yourself. No matter what you do, no matter what you accomplish, never take yourself too seriously."
While all of the speakers commended Weatherford's commitment to service, Duvall went further in his praise.
"He was a natural," Duvall said of the young man whom he trained when Weatherford first joined the Newport Police Department. "He caught on to the demands of the job so quickly."
Duvall shared a memory of the two of them on patrol and stopping a man who was wanted on a warrant. After the man got out of his vehicle he began to run.
"I tackled him and tried to cuff him," Duvall remembered, saying Weatherford ran to assist him. "As Patrick knelt down, all the doors on the car flew open and four or five small kids came out of the car and jumped on Patrick's back and began scratching him and pulling his hair. When we got the suspect up, you could tell Patrick had been in a fight"
Duvall said the two often laughed about the way the kids attacked Weatherford, even though he was the one arresting their father.
"He said, "I'm never going to ride with you again,'" Duvall chuckled. "I told him, 'I will never ask you to go on a call with me where little kids are involved.'"
Duvall finished his comments by saying the lieutenant, whom he met years ago working at the Price Chopper, would never be replaced.
"Other officers down the line may wear the badge number, but they're not Patrick."
Duvall then looked toward the flag-draped casket and in a voice choked with grief said, "Patrick, we love you."
A police officer then walked to the front of the stage, a walkie-talkie in his hand, and held it aloft as a dispatcher called out Lt. Weatherford's badge number one last time.
Officers seated on the stage broke down and sobbed as they listened to the last call.
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