In an emotional display of community camaraderie, nearly 1,000 McFarland residents and dozens of area public safety officials stood along street curbs as a 20-car procession led police officer Ryan Copeland’s casket in a hearse through the village one final time.
Announced just three hours beforehand, the procession continued to a Janesville funeral home Tuesday as dusk fell.
Copeland, his casket covered in an American flag, served 10 years in the Army then joined the McFarland Police Department in June 2013. He died in a car crash Monday early afternoon while he was on duty to pick up Boris, the village’s working K9 and Copeland’s partner.
Many residents brought their dogs out; others held American flags. Some saluted. Most had watery eyes as the procession moved along slowly, stopping momentarily at the Municipal Center, where the police department is located.
University of Wisconsin Police Sgt. Brent Plisch stood with his K9 Odin at the procession. “It’s an amazing bond,” Plisch said, describing the connection between officer and dog.
DeForest Lt. Dan Furseth was there with other members of the DeForest Police Department.
“Any public safety,” he said, “we all look out for each other. A tragedy like this … you need to show support.”
McFarland resident Molly Bolender held an American flag while waiting for the procession. Her reason to attend? “Respect,” she said.