Police honor fallen Minneapolis Park Police officer

Thousands attended the funeral of Park Police officer Mark Bedard who died Friday from injuries sustained in the line of duty.

Betsy Graca

Thousands of police officers and county sheriffs from across the state, including University police officers, lined the steps of The Basilica of St. Mary on Wednesday morning before the funeral of Minneapolis Park Police officer Mark Bedard.

Bedard died Friday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale from injuries sustained when he was hit by a car driven by two Minneapolis police officers on Nov. 1.

Bedard was chasing a suspect on foot when he was hit by the squad car.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said he had met Bedard last year at the Special Olympics Polar Plunge, and said at least five officers currently with the University police were former park agents who knew Bedard.

“Unfortunately I’ve been to a lot of funerals over the years,” Hestness said. “But in terms of helping the family and department heal, just your presence there is appreciated and it’s about all you can do.”

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, on average, 165 police officers are killed each year in the line of duty across the United States.

St. Paul police Sgt. Paul Schnell said any officer’s death has a big impact on the law enforcement community.

“Any time there is a death like this, it has a tremendous affect on the officers and their families,” he said.

Death, he said, is a sacrifice police officers hope they never have to make, but it is something that has to be respected.

President of the Minneapolis Park Board Jon Olson emphasized the importance of being a police officer during his eulogy.

“Being a police officer is the most honorable thing a person can do,” he said.

Bedard was highly respected by his friends and colleagues, he said, and thought community service was part of his job.

Bedard went beyond his call of duty and would visit schools to talk to children about how to go down the “right path,” Olson said.

Bedard’s uncle, Art Froehle, said during his eulogy that on one occasion Bedard visited a school to talk to an unruly 5-year-old boy.

Froehle said Bedard and the boy were later seen walking down the hall hand in hand.

The citizens of Minneapolis have lost a great friend, he said.

Bedard’s friend Shannon Welle said his greatest legacy wasn’t his job – it was his family.

Bedard is survived by his wife, Andrea, and his 2-year-old son, Nicholas.

The Basilica was overflowing with police officers, family members and friends.

Park Police officer Robert Mooney read letters during his eulogy from other officers who remembered Bedard.

“Thank you for keeping your brothers in blue and sisters in blue safe,” he read.

Bedard was the first park police officer to die in the line of duty since the agency was formed in 1883.

Park police Sgt. Fred McCormick said he is devastated by Bedard’s death and it will take time to get over it.

“It’s a sad day for everyone; we lost a great partner, friend, colleague,” he said. “There are support mechanisms, like a family, that is truly what helps people get through this.”