Rodney “Hot Rod” Jones - Full honor funeral service

On September 23rd 2013, we had the distinct honor to document the funeral service for Officer Rodney Wayne Jones of the Detroit Police Department. Known as “Hot Rod” for his passion for racing cars and riding motorcycles. He died of an apparent heart attack on the 14th of September at the Bikes on the Bricks charity event in Flint, Michigan where Rodney was participating.

The moment that someone pursues a career in law enforcement, his or her lives are altered forever. What it takes to make it through the academy is toughness, determination and teamwork. Much like the armed forces the bonds that are formed through training are as strong as family, sometimes even stronger. That “second family” connection is very real and powerful. They understand that the decision to “protect and serve” can find them in harms way.

The Detroit Police Department made the decision to give the 49 year-old Jones the full honor funeral service out of sheer respect for him. A true “cops-cop” he had the utmost respect of everyone in the department from the very top all the way down. He served as an officer in the Traffic Enforcement Unit (TEU), was a trainer for the TEU, Captain of the Detroit Police Honor Guard (the same Honor Guard that would serve at his funeral) and more during his 28 years on the force.

For those of you who have never witnessed what a full service is for an officer it are similar to that of a member of the military. Police from not only his department, but also others from around the state came to pay respects. Even officers from Toronto were in attendance. All came in full uniform. You could feel the emotion of the day. This was more than just a man to all of those in uniform. This was a brother. Even if someone never worked alongside him that didn’t matter. When you take the plunge in becoming an officer you commit your life to the badge. You feel the loss of a brother or sister like losing a blood relative. It is a bond that is difficult to explain to those on the outside. To witness this service was an eye-opener into that world.

In a sign of respect his unit rode to the interment on their motorcycles lining the streets with their flashing lights. At the cemetery Hot Rod’s unit lined up the motorcycles. His was placed on a little island under a tree. The unit then turned on their sirens and lights at the same time. It was touching moment to see 50 motorcycles doing this at the same time. Once they were turned off, Hot Rod’s bike was turned on with lights flashing and siren blasting one last time. It was an emotional moment that words cannot accurately describe. After it was shut off the TEU rode a lap around the island drive to say good-bye to their fallen brother. He also received a “21 Gun Salute” from the Honor Guard.

Our invitation to film the full honor funeral service was by Funeral Director Linda Swanson of Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit.

Arranging funerals for community leaders such as Rodney is nothing new for Swanson Funeral Home. The multi-generational funeral home has been serving the Detroit community for 55 years. They were handpicked for the service for Rosa Parks and the hearse that carried officer Jones was the same one that carried Ms. Parks.

All in all it was both an emotional and inspirational day where we witnessed friends and family gathering to honor and remember one of Detroit’s finest.