Flags and signs lined the streets of Utah County on Saturday as the Provo Police Department prepared to say farewell to one of its own.
“It has been a hard week and the amount of support has been incredible,” Provo Police Department Chief Richard Ferguson said Saturday morning.
Master Officer Joseph Shinners was shot and killed in the line of duty Jan. 5 after responding to reports that a man with outstanding warrants was in a pickup in the parking lot of the Bed Bath & Beyond in Orem.
He was laid to rest at the Evergreen Cemetery in Springville following the funeral Saturday at the UCCU Center in Orem. The funeral procession took a detour through Provo before arriving at the cemetery.
Hundreds of officers stood at attention and saluted Shinners’ flag-draped casket as it was led by bagpipes into the arena.
Shinners’ life sketch began and ended with John 15:13, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” a theme echoed through the fallen officer’s funeral service Saturday.
“This scripture described Joe in life and death,” said Kyle Swanson, Shinners’ brother-in-law. “He served his family, his friends and his community.”
Swanson described Shinners as an outdoorsman who was a talker and loved being a dad. Swanson said Shinners loved taking care of others and never hesitated to help those around him.
In the quieter moments, Shinners was the man who loved clean sheets, feared nothing except for snakes, always came home late because he was talking to someone and ended arguments by spouting nonsensical phrases, according to his widow, Kaylyn.
She said he taught her the true meaning of love and selflessness.
“He is my companion and partner for eternity and I look forward to being reunited with him,” she said.
Ferguson called Saturday a somber day, but that he could not be more proud of his officers and the bond between them.
“They are carrying each other’s water right now,” he said.
Ferguson said Shinners had the ability to be humble while remaining confident.
“He’s a leader and he’s a hero,” he said.
Officers understand two truths about policing, Ferguson said, that there is evil in the world, and that good men and women are going to die. But they still return to the nobility of policing.
Services for Shinners included remarks from Gov. Gary Herbert and members of Shinners’ family.
Ferguson addressed Shinners’ widow and 1-year-old son, Logan, during his remarks and promised Shinners would not be forgotten.
“Your daddy is, and always will be a hero,” Ferguson said.
He recalled Shinners’ job interview with him. Shinners, who liked riding motorcycles a little too fast, was asked if he had any traffic tickets.
“We knew we had an honest cop in front of us because he smiled and said, ‘kinda,’” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said the other police kept a straight face during Shinners’ traffic ticket confession, and then, after he left, they turned to each other smiling to say they liked him.
On the night of his death, Ferugson said Shinners saw one of his fellow officers in danger and took action.
“Without reservation, Master Officer Shinners placed himself in a position of danger in an attempt to aid another officer,” he said. “Master Officer Shinners selflessly sacrificed his life to protect the lives of his fellow officers.”
Ferguson said that Shinners had the constant presence of law enforcement since his death.
Shinners was known as being a natural officer, according to his older brother, Michael Shinners.
“Joe was a sheepdog, he fought the wolves and he gave his life doing so,” Michael Shinners said.
His brother once paid $60 so a man in need would have a warm place to stay for the night and hugged a suspect after he arrested him because the man needed comfort.
Michael Shinners called for the community to have a greater respect for police, firefighters and first responders. He said every officer deserves to return home to their children when their shift ends and that the country cannot continue to accept a constant stream of officer deaths.
Police came from across Utah County, the state and even the nation to pay respects to Shinners on Saturday.
Despite attending many officer funerals in their careers, listening to the bagpipes and hearing the last call never becomes less emotional for law enforcement.
“Even though you don’t know that person, the brotherhood, the thin blue line is really strong,” said Cpl. Tyler Wray with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard.
Wray traveled four hours from Idaho to be at the services.
Wray said losing officers doesn’t get easier.
“It doesn’t matter when you hear about it, it’s still the same,” Wray said.
The Shinners also received support from the Haverhill Police Department in Massachusetts, where Shinners’ brother, Michael, works, and another sibling, Thomas, used to work.
“This one means a little more something because it is close to home,” said Det. William O’Connell with the Haverhill Police Department.
The department has raised $6,000 for the family.
Despite the distance, O’Connell said Utah is not the farthest the department has traveled to honor a fallen officer. The department has gone as far as Washington state to attend an officer’s funeral.