The American Flag-draped casket carrying the body of fallen Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers was carried by caisson through the City of Aiken Wednesday where she was laid to rest alongside her beloved mother in Bethany Cemetery.More than a thousand uniformed law enforcement officers gathered with hundreds of mourners from the community to bid farewell to the 27-year-veteran officer who was fatally shot Saturday morning in Eustis Park while checking on a suspicious vehicle. The accused murderer, Joshua T. Jones, 26, has since been charged with her death and the death of his pregnant girlfriend, Cayce Vice, 21, of Augusta.Rogers was 48 years old, and was reportedly the first female officer killed in the line of duty in the state.Several elected officials were also in attendance, including S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.Rogers' death has also gained particular attention because it is the second in-the-line of duty death at the Aiken Department of Public Safety in as many months.On Dec. 20, 2011, Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson was shot in the line of duty. He died early the next morning from his injuries.The deaths have taken their toll on the Aiken community, especially the close-knit police department.Only weeks ago, Rogers was in attendance at Richardson's funeral, reflected Master Public Safety Officer Daymon Spann during the eulogy he gave.Spann not only worked with Rogers, he and his family also lived near her and her life partner of nearly three decades, Frances Williams.The two families grew close to each other, and Spann reflected on the many times they shared.He described Rogers as courageous in her profession, loyal to those she loved and humble in her actions.She was a born instructor who trained the majority of officers in the department, Spann said. To many she was a mentor and to some she was like a mother.Spann recalled something Rogers said only weeks ago when Richardson was laid to rest.A fellow law enforcement officer asked Rogers a simple question, "What do we do now?" Spann reflected.He said Rogers had a simple reply, "We go on."In the wake of her death, Spann said he would do as Rogers had advised."With fond memories of Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers in our hearts ... we go on," he said.The department's director, Charles Barranco turned to his officers who gathered and also spoke of healing."During these trying times we will dig deep," he said. "Let no one count us out - we will overcome ..."At the conclusion of the service, a hearse carrying Rogers' body followed a procession route from the USC Aiken Convocation Center to Bethany Cemetery on Laurens Street. The streets were lined with thousands of men, women and children who held signs of support and waived American Flags as the Rogers family and patrols cars traveled to a waiting caisson.Silence took hold of downtown on the unseasonably warm February day as a bell outside Aiken Public Safety's headquarters building was rung nine times in honor of the fallen officer.The caisson was then led to the cemetery by bag pipers and drummers with the Charleston Police Department.Rogers' casket was then carried by her fellow B-Shift Officers, Lt. Teddy Umsted, Sgt. Mat Braxton, Sgt. Karl Odenthal, Billy Cameron, Jason Fogle, Carlos Colindres, Jacob Pridgen, Timothy Hawkes, Brenton Russo and Brandon Bethman.The silence that had ascended was broken when deputies with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office fired a 21-gun salute, and "Taps" pierced the still air.The flag that had covered Rogers' casket throughout the day was then carefully removed, folded and handed to Rogers' father, Jack Rogers.In the distance, four helicopters emerged from clouds overhead and performed a fly-over.As the helicopters flew from sight, silence returned to the graveside service, and the voice of a female dispatcher keyed up in the back ground. The dispatcher made three ceremonial calls for Rogers that each time went unanswered."Station (to) 203," the dispatcher repeated.When there was no reply and only silence, the dispatcher reported that Rogers had completed her service to the city, using the code for and end of her duty tour, 10-42."Station (to) all units, Aiken Department of Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandy Roger is now 10-42," the dispatcher said.Three ceremonial tones then played in the background.Click here to watch full video of Wednesday's memorial service on the Aiken Standard's page dedicated to fallen Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers.Contact Karen Daily at email@example.com.
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