Funeral home voices concern after Decatur puts limits on processions

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DECATUR, Ala. (AP/WHNT) — A city in Alabama is limiting the number of vehicles allowed in funeral processions after local authorities say they became "large and dangerous."

Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen said only 15 vehicles will be permitted to drive in processions, in addition to a hearse, a funeral home vehicle and a vehicle for family of the deceased.

Capt. Chris Jones told Decatur Daily that up to 40 vehicles were driving in a line during some processions, "overwhelming" the department's ability to provide proper assistance. He said neighboring cities have banned processions entirely, but the department instead came up with a compromise.

Reynolds Funeral Homeowner, Dexter Elliot told WHNT reporter Ethan Fitzgerald the city came to local funeral directors AFTER the rule was implemented.

"We were receptive because I think, basically, that if we didn't make these types of changes, the only other alternative is to disband funeral escorts," said Elliot.

Elliot said the Decatur Police Department does an excellent job handling processions. However, he is already fielding concerns from his grieving customers.

"I think that's a problem. People are trying to follow the procession regardless. Because some people have no idea where the burial site is,"  explained Elliot.

Councilman Billy Jackson said the tradition should continue unchanged in order to respect the dead. He asked the mayor to override the decision, but the mayor declined to intervene.

Some questions remain unanswered from both the police and the mayor. Like, what happens when a first responder passes away?

"Are we going to limit those to 15? At that point, I really feel like every citizen to me and every family I serve is just as important as anyone else and deserves the same respect," said Elliot.

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