20 years after Officer Kendricks’ death, LPD motor unit reflects on his legacy

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 9:37 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Thursday marks two decades since the death of Lubbock police officer Rodney Kendricks. While escorting a funeral procession in July 2001, he was injured in a motorcycle crash and died from those injuries days later.

Every year for the past 20 years, officers in the motorcycle unit travel to Odessa to visit Kendricks’ grave and stand alongside his family.

“Holding his mom’s hand every year, just I can’t, I can’t imagine what she must feel. He’s got daughters, I can’t imagine what they must feel,” Corporal Brooks Jennings said.

The yearly trip is a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen on the job. Kendricks not only left an impact on his fellow officers and community but on the motorcycle unit itself.

“I’ve been on motor unit for 11 years and funeral escorts have changed tremendously just in the 11 years I’ve been on,” Jennings said.

Corporal Jennings says after the 2001 tragedy, there was a short hiatus from doing funeral processions at all. Now, they look a little different. Changes include bright yellow uniforms for officers, limiting escorts to around 15 cars, and increasing the number of motorcycles from two to at least three.

“The slower we’re able to go to get to the front the safer it is. Obviously, we’re still going to be moving along pretty quickly to get back to the front, but having that extra bike, being responsible for a few less cars, makes it considerably easier to get to the front,” Jennings said.

Jennings says officers want to continue providing this service for families, but they need help from drivers to do it safely. When you see red and blue lights, stop and pull to the right. If you’re in front of the escort, keep going. Always watch for officers’ hand signals.

“If you’re oncoming traffic, pull to the right. Stop. The funeral escort will take no more than a minute of anybody’s time, but be respectful to that family more than anything. give them their moment,” Jennings said.

On the anniversary, the motor unit is lifting up Kendricks’ family and Jennings says it will continue to do so every year.

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