In 1991 the LEMA Honor Guard was established so that Minnesota officers who die in the line of duty receive the ceremony, honor and dignity that such a sacrifice deserves at the time of their funeral.
A secondary mission of the Honor Guard is to serve as a constant reminder of Minnesota officers who stand ready to give their lives if duty calls. Until the activation of the LEMA Honor Guard, ceremony was only provided by local veterans organizations, often only in cases where the officer was a veteran.
The LEMA Honor Guard is the first Police Honor Guard in the nation made up of statewide volunteer officers. Applicants for the Honor Guard must complete a written application, oral review board, physical test, and background investigation. Only full-time law enforcement officers in Minnesota are eligible to be on the LEMA Honor Guard. The current Honor Guard consists of over 40 volunteers from different agencies in Minnesota, including metro and out-state officers.
Initial training for LEMA Honor Guard members is received at a five-day training session, held annually at Camp Ripley. This training is sponsored and instructed by LEMA Honor Guard members and was the first non-military Honor Guard training offered in the U.S. Agencies from as far away as California, Florida and Texas (along with many other states) have attended, including Federal Law Enforcement, as well as the U.S. Border Patrol. Most classes include over 100 officers.
The LEMA Honor Guard members are proud to attend training with the 3rd Infantry at Fort Meyer, Virginia (commonly referred to as “The Old Guard”).
Members of the LEMA Honor Guard receive cross training on all honor guard duties, but are assigned to one of three main team:
The Colors Team
Specializes in presenting, retiring, and guarding the flags at funerals and special events.
The Rifle Team
Provides ceremonial guard duty and fires the “three volleys” at police funerals.
The Casket Team
Functions as pallbearers, casket guards, and fold the American Flag that may be draped over the casket at law enforcement funerals.
LEMA Honor Guard members are each issued a dress uniform consisting of a black coat and pants with gold piping. A gold shoulder cord is displayed on the left side of the jacket. Each officer wears the badge of their own agency on their coat, but a common LEMA badge on the ceremonial white hat. Honor Guard members wear clarino leather belts and shoes and their own department handgun. Each member is issued a M14 Rifle.
Insignia on the right chest of the officer indicates various training and event participation:
(Top): Training with the 3rd Infantry at Fort Meyer, VA
(Second): Participation in a National Law Enforcement Memorial event in Washington, DC
(Third): Membership on the LEMA Honor Guard (original members have a different design) and training at the LEMA Honor Guard annual camp
(Fourth): Name Plate
(Fifth): Unit insignia for the LEMA Honor Guard Casket Team
Besides providing honors at law enforcement funerals, the LEMA Honor Guard provides ceremonial details at different police functions throughout the year, including Police Memorial Day (May 15th) at the Minnesota State Capitol, and the first Sunday in May for the Minnesota Police Ecumenical Service. The Ecumenical Service is a time of remembrance for the over 269 officers who have died in the line of duty in Minnesota. During the service, the Honor Roll including the names of each of the fallen officers will be read, and ribbons bearing the names of officers killed in the last year will be added to the ceremonial flag.