Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation takes lead in planning deputy Parrish’s funeral

DENVER -- Extensive planning has gone into Douglas County sheriff's deputy Zackari Parrish's funeral, which happens Friday morning.

It's expected to last two hours and will include long processions.

The Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation has led the planning of the memorial service.

The group’s mission is to help ease the burden on agencies such as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, whose men and women need time to mourn one of their own.

“When an officer dies in the line of duty, we give them a proper memorial no matter what," said Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation president Steve Redfearn, who's also a lieutenant with the Aurora Police Department.

"It’s typically done in house and it’s extremely taxing on the agency ... emotionally, resources and one of the things we realized when we formed our organization is that there are agencies that have never lost someone in the line of duty, smaller agencies that don’t have the resources.

"The Fallen Hero Foundation met with Sheriff (Tony) Spurlock on Sunday at the hospital and offered our assistance. We explained to him we could help with whatever his agency needs and he said quite frankly, ‘please help us.'

"A small group of us met here Sunday night and got a game plan for the week. We put key people in key roles for different positions. We break this up into different groups and subgroups and very methodically through an incident command system.”

This is the first line of duty funeral the Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation has planned, but it has help from their counterparts from Washington state.

Sgt. Brian Johnston flew in on Sunday to help.

He is the president of Behind the Badge Foundation that provides similar help to law enforcement agencies in the Pacific Northwest.

He has helped plan more than 50 officer funerals.

“We start in this room honoring the family’s wishes and Zack’s memory," he said. "Our goal is to get them to the best service possible do the most appropriate and honorable service in most expeditious fashion.

"It’s a big machine in here. It’s got a huge heart. I’m confident the department would make it there, but we want to make it easier for them.”

And the help is much appreciated by Spurlock.

“I can’t even put it into words. ... Means a great deal to me and my staff. We would not be able to do this without their help. It’s a lot of work to do it the right way.

There’s lots of moving parts with the other injured officers, taking care of them and the family of Zack. Doing what Gracie needs and wants.”

He also thanked the community for all the love and support it has shown since Sunday.

“The outpouring of love and caring and compassion from this community and the metro area and around the United States," Spurlock said. I am getting calls from around the country. It’s just unbelievable the amount of love people are sending our way.”

And Redfearn said it is refreshing to see.

“It’s heartening for us because sometimes we don’t fell the most love in the current climate, so this week is showing us the community has our backs and really have come out to appreciate they appreciate what we do," he said.

The Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation plans to provide support to Parrish's family long after Friday's funeral. It's a nonprofit group that accepts donations.

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