Updated: 08/07/2014 7:22 AM
Created: 08/06/2014 5:07 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews
A true sense of community could be felt throughout West St. Paul and Mendota Heights Wednesday afternoon as thousands said goodbye to fallen Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick.
Patrick’s funeral was held at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in West St. Paul, and he was laid to rest at Acacia Park Cemetery in Mendota Heights.
Those who wanted to pay their respects and say “thank you” spilled out of the church and along the sides of the streets, where the funeral procession took place.
People could be seen for miles holding up flags and signs. Some spent hours standing and waiting for the moment the hearse carrying Officer Patrick slowly drove by on its way to the cemetery.
Three families happened to be standing next to each other along the procession route; all three are the families of law enforcement.
“It’s scary, you know, how this happened,” Shannon Pederson said. “It’s just…it could be anybody.”
Pederson is a former police officer and the wife of an Inver Grove Heights police officer. She and her family wanted to make sure the Patrick family knows they are not alone. She also wanted her children to understand the importance of standing strong as a community.
“I tried to explain to them today that we’re out here to honor that fallen officer and to show the family that we care about them,” Pederson said.
Alongside the Pederson family stood the Spencer and Cortez families.
“With the heartbreak that they’re experiencing, I can’t imagine, and I hope I never do,” said Carolyn Spencer, the mother of a St. Paul police officer.
“It’s a good opportunity to meet new people that care…that just support one another,” Antonio Cortez said.
At just 15 years old, Cortez understands what police officers do every day for others; his cousin is a West St. Paul police officer.
“He’s a brave guy for going out there, risking his life every day just like every other police officer,” Cortez said, talking about Officer Patrick’s legacy.
There were a lot of people along the procession route who had never met Patrick and have no connection to law enforcement.
“Even though we don’t know him personally, we’re here to support his family and that he is one of us as a family member,” Michelle Smallidge of Inver Grove Heights said.
Students and staff at Saint Thomas Academy had come to know Patrick over the years. They lined the streets in full dress uniform Wednesday and stood silent and solemn as the hearse drove by.
“It’s a sign of respect towards Officer Patrick and a sign of respect towards the Mendota Heights Police Department and all law enforcement officials,” said Mike DePulio, Commandant, Saint Thomas Academy.
A community, grateful for the years that Patrick dedicated to the police department and his community, spent their Wednesday morning and afternoon making sure Patrick had a proper eight-mile-long goodbye.
A memorial fund has been established to help the family. Learn more here.
Community members can help the family in a different way, too. The Minnesota Auxiliary of Wives Behind the Badge is organizing a school supply drive for Patrick’s daughters as well as children in the community he served.
Donations of backpacks, lunch boxes, thumb drives, notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons and other supplies will be accepted along with gift cards. The organization is also asking for donations of gas cards for Patrick’s college-bound daughter.
Gifts will be collected through Aug. 23 at the following sites: