Law enforcement holds mock funeral as part of 'Honor Guard Academy'

STUART, Fla. - The uniforms are real, the ceremony is realistic-- but the casket is empty.

Jim Sanders, a Martin County Sheriff's Deputy, said a mock funeral can be no less solemn than a true ceremony, because of what it represents.
"It's for fallen officers who have taken the ultimate plunge," explained Sanders. And it's just out of respect, and it's to make sure you mind your Ps and Qs, to make sure everything is done right."
The simulated funeral is part of a three-day "Honor Guard Academy," which began ten years ago in Broward County.
William Weiss, Honor Guard Commander and Martin County Sheriff's Deputy, said these traditions are important, to pay due respects.
"They need to check their feelings at the door, and realize this is all for the law enforcement victim families, and do their job to honor the fallen,"  said Weiss, of the need to participate properly in the ceremonial situations.
This is the only Honor Guard Academy on the Treasure Coast, with several law enforcement agencies participating from Indian River County, Martin County, Broward County and even Florida state troopers.
Deputy Sanders has been to several friends' funerals, and he says it's the toughest part of his job.
"There's always a tear coming," said Sanders. "No matter how big and strong you are, there's a tear coming from your face."
Although the drill was only practice, should an officer be killed in the line of duty, Sanders says they'll be ready.
"It'll definitely help you out to where you know what you're doing so you can just take care of the mission and get it done," he said.
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