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Bell County graduate among three selected to Kentucky State Police Honor Guard

From Kentucky State Police -

HARLAN, Ky. (December 30, 2020) – The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Honor Guard selected three new members to join the team, bringing the total to 14 units, the most the Honor Guard has ever had. The KSP Honor Guard was established in 1981 and continues in its fortieth year as a notable service to the community and agency.

The specialized unit performs the “Presentation of Colors” for various civic and public gatherings and formal events. They also provide honors for law enforcement officers that are killed in line of duty. But one of their most important and solemn duties is to the families of retired KSP troopers. During a retiree’s funeral visitation, the Honor Guard will stand at the coffin near the family to show the agency’s continued support for them in their time of grief.

During the graveside service for a KSP retiree the Honor Guard will present to family members a folded Kentucky flag representing appreciation for their service to the commonwealth. As well as a folded KSP flag for their service to the agency. They will then render a final salute over the coffin.

“I can remember the faces of every family member I’ve presented a flag to at a funeral. For a lot of people, this is the last interaction they will have with the Kentucky State Police,” said Honor Guard Commander Lieutenant Jason Bunch. “You make eye contact with that person. It’s deep and it’s meaningful. The family members appreciate it and it touches our hearts.”

To become a member of the KSP Honor Guard, a Trooper must apply and participate in try-outs. Each applicant completes an interview, uniform and vehicle inspection and performs mock ceremonial drills.

“You have to have the right mind set, be service-minded and have discipline. This is an important job, and we want the best people representing our agency,” said Bunch.

New Honor Guard member and Bell County graduate Trooper Keith Lowe says joining the Honor Guard is about paying his respects. Lowe has been a state trooper for four years and had heard about the Honor Guard but didn’t understand the importance of it until he went to a retired trooper’s funeral.

“As I watched the Honor Guard at the funeral, I realized how important their presence was,” said Lowe. “The team was professional, honorable and paid their respects to a person who served the commonwealth and the United States. I knew in that moment I wanted to be a part of the Kentucky State Police Honor Guard.”

Upon selection, each trooper receives a traditional uniform that consists of a black high collared coat with silver piping. The black coat recalls a long law enforcement heritage. The silver piping represents the agency nickname, “the thin gray line”, first used by then-Commissioner Ted Basset in the 1960’s. After a six-month probation period with extensive training and practice, these new members can qualify to become full members of the Honor Guard continuing the team’s long legacy.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this family and I’m humbled to be able to serve the agency and the commonwealth in a meaningful way,” said Lowe.

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