Thousands Line Procession Route for Provo Police Officer Joseph Shinners
PROVO, Utah – For as cold as downtown Provo can be on a January afternoon, Jen Smith figured her three young daughters would benefit from being outside for a little while.
“See if you can jump ten times in a row,” she said to them while they were playing. “It’ll help warm you up.”
She wasn’t trying to teach them about shivering.
Instead, they were outside because she wanted them to know about Joseph Shinners.
“You know, where we live here, it’s close to home,” she said with tears in her eyes.
Shinners, an officer with the Provo Police Department, was shot and killed last Saturday.
Smith watched his funeral on her phone while standing on the side of Center Street in Provo Saturday afternoon.
However, she wanted to make sure to see the procession in person.
“I don’t have any family members in law enforcement of anything like that,” said Smith. “I want my children to know that it’s important to support these men and women who go out every day of their lives to protect us and to keep us safe.”
She explained to her kids that when one of them falls trying to keep us safe, the least we can do is say thank you and show support.
“It was just heartbreaking,” she said.
For close to a half hour, police departments from all across Utah, and neighboring states, came through Provo as part of the funeral procession.
“That one is from Idaho. Boise,” Smith said pointing out the police car to her kids.
She also explained to her children that police officers are moms and dads, too.
As Shinners’ hearse passed under the large American flag raised between two Provo Power bucket trucks, it was a reminder this was his last ride.
“I just feel so bad for all of these guys. They lost a brother,” she said. “If you look at a lot of the wives riding in the passenger seat, they’re all, like, sobbing. Because they know that one day this could be them.”
Utah has dealt with similar tragedies several times in the past year, but residents say one of the positive things about being in Utah is every time something like this happens, there is a strong showing of support from the community.
Many people waved American flags.
Others had the thin blue line flag that is associated with law enforcement.
There were also ribbons, signs, and stickers showing support to the family of Shinners and the Provo Police Department.
“Supporting the police is very important,” Smith told her children.
That may be why, for as cold as it was, you could feel the warmth of just coming together.
“It’s a sense of pride,” said Smith.