“A servant’s heart:” Fallen police officer Brian Pierce honored at service with statewide turnout

A long line of first responders escorted fallen police officer Brian Pierce to his final resting place on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2021. (Photo by Joey Helleny)

Mourners from around the state gathered on Saturday, August 14, to honor fallen Police Officer Brian Pierce Jr. of Carbondale, Illinois.

Prior to the funeral, Pierce’s death was shared throughout social media, prompting an outpouring of public support. A miles-long line of American flags were placed along the side of the route that the caravan would take from John A. Logan College to Pierce’s final resting place in Carterville.

The funeral was held in the auditorium of John A. Logan College.

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Pierce, a Brooklyn, Illinois, officer, was hit and killed by a car on August 4 while on duty in Venice. No suspect has been found.

Pierce joined the Makanda Fire Department in 2016, where he achieved the rank of lieutenant and fire investigator. Pierce owned Priority Response Equipment and also worked as a Supervisor of Security at Consume in Carbondale. He commuted to Brooklyn to serve there.

Pierce had been involved in law enforcement from a young age, attending the State Police Junior Police Academy and graduating at the top of the class. Throughout his middle and high school years, he worked with the Raymond/Harvel Fire Department, Elkville Fire Department, and aided local law enforcement in the busting of unauthorized sales of tobacco and liquor to minors.

After graduating from the Illinois Correctional Academy, Pierce worked briefly at the Menard Correctional Facility. Pierce also worked as a patrolman for Spillertown, IL and aided in drone search and rescue operations throughout southern Illinois and working as the Head of Security at University mall.

Brooklyn Police Chief Thomas Jeffrey said Pierce was well liked in his department as well as in the surrounding communities he served. 

“Everyone liked him,” Jeffery said. “I’ve trained hundreds of officers and not one compares. Pierce was the golden egg we needed with such a short staff. He stepped up when he was needed and gave everything in the line of duty.”

Pierce’s funeral was attended by officers from across the state of Illinois. Fire, police, and EMS workers from as far north as Peoria, IL were in attendance.

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“It’s very nice to see,” Jeffrey said. . “I was the first in the pack of cars to head this way and I called one of my officers. I told him I was at mile marker 62 and he said he was at marker 63 with no end to the caravan in sight, so it was very nice to see miles of brothers and sisters had come out to show their support.”

Harry Masse, director of the Metropolis Department of Public Safety, said every first responder’s funeral brings sorrow and a “feeling of helplessness.”

“Fraternity and brotherhood brought me here,” he said.  “I’ve been doing this for 40 years and been to countless funerals. Every time it has the same impact.

“We all feel sad and regretful,” Masse said. “I feel sorry for the officers that will second guess themselves out of fear something similar will happen to them. The calls aren’t going to go away and the stress just adds up after a while. It’s hard to explain to a civilian with no concept of the dangers we see from day to day, but you just have to hope you have a good family core willing to look out for you.”

Pierce’s family chose not to speak with press directly but chose to give statements through Chad Bock, a spokesperson from the group Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), a national organization with the goal of helping families and co-workers cope with the loss of family and friends lost in the line of duty.

“Our local communities need more people like him,” Bock said. “They need more people with a servant’s heart.”

“They’re overwhelmed by the support of the police, firefighters, EMS, and community at large,” Bock said. “The family is being strong, but they are hurting at the loss of a son and brother at only 24.”

The family appreciates the love and support shown to them from those who appreciate Pierce’s work and sacrifice. They ask that, to honor Pierce’s memory, people continue to support their public servants. Their support allows them to move forward in the knowledge that Pierce’s sacrifice was not in vain.

“We just want people to get that we’re human,” Masse said. “We bleed, we cry and we laugh just like everyone else. Pierce did his job honorably and we’re all deeply grateful”

The family’s message to the public was one of gratitude and appreciation for the love and support of the community and brothers and sisters in arms. They ask that people continue to support their public servants and for those servants to keep up the fight, continuing to serve regardless of public opinion. People wishing to honor Pierce’s legacy can donate to a GoFundMe started by the family.

Below is video of the funeral procession:

 

Staff reporter William Box can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @William17455137

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