Seen and heard at officer's funeral
By The Grand Rapids Press
Clerk spells out her appreciation

Hours before slain Grand Rapids Police Officer Robert Kozminski was laid to rest, Gin Clausen knelt in front of the Grand Rapids Police Department with a bucket of sidewalk chalk, oblivious to the pedestrians walking past.

Tears streamed down her face as she wrote, "God Bless GRPD. Thank You."

Clausen usually reserves her chalking for West Coast Coffee, the downtown coffee shop where she works as a clerk. But Friday morning she walked down the block to police headquarters.

"I don't think people truly think of them every day," she said of the officers. "We get used to them, and I just wanted to say 'Thank you.'"

Meter enforcer takes break

Grand Rapids parking meter attendant Richard Jobe rounded the corner of Monroe Avenue and noted the time: 11 a.m. It was the hour where the community was asked to pause in memory of Kozminski.

For a moment, no parking tickets were issued downtown. He folded his arms in front of him, bowed his head and paused in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the Grand Rapids Police Department.

It was just a moment of silence and reflection. Then he carried on.

'We stand together'

Deputy Rick Haglund of the Lenawee County Sheriff's Department made the two-hour trip to the funeral because he believes police officers must stick together.

"It's the kind of job where you don't make a lot of friends," he said Friday, waiting to move into the processional from St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church to the cemetery. "We know it is a dangerous job, and what happened to him could have happened to any of us. So when it does happen, we stand together."

Musicians answer the call

It was only natural for bagpipe and pipe players to play at Kozminski's funeral. Members of the Muskegon Regional Police Pipe Band and the Windsor Police Pipe Band were on hand at the church and cemetery to play their solemn pieces.

They often play at weddings, parades and concerts, but they say a police funeral is especially moving and important.

"This is big," said Ian Moir with the Windsor band, who was wearing a kilt. And Bob Graham, with the Muskegon band, said members knew they would play when they heard about the fatal shooting.

"We kind of expected to be here for something like this," he said.

Motorcycle club shows support

Dressed in their leather vests, T-shirts, boots and motorcycle gear, members of the Muskegon Lawmen Motorcycle Club stuck out a little as they stood among a sea of other officers in dress uniforms of blue, black and brown, waiting their turn to walk past Kozminski's casket Friday.

But this is no routine biker gang. The group features mostly retired, but some active, officers in West Michigan.

"We go every year to Washington, D.C., for officers who lost their lives," said retired officer David Ramos. "We want the Kozminski family to know there is lots of support."

Students say 'thank you'

Along the procession route, 13-year-old students Brenna Puffer, Liz Price, Kalya Rosinski and Lauren Borek stood behind a huge homemade sign that read, "Thank You Koz."

As each of a stream of police cars from around the state passed them, they yelled "Thank You" to the officers inside.

The girls, stationed near Covell Avenue, said they just wanted to show their respect.

He seemed like family

Although they weren't related, Jennifer McFarlan said Kozminski felt like family to her.

The officer often visited McFarlan's home to help keep her brother "in line," she said. When Kozminski appeared at the door, she knew things would be all right.

"He was all about his job," she said. "He was a very good guy."

Standing near Holy Cross Cemetery to pay her respects, she said the community's gratitude for his service will outlive the fallen officer.

"He helped us live in a safer world," McFarlan said. "No one will forget that."

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