The flags at the Cook-Walden funeral home in North Austin are lowered in honor of Travis County Sergeant Craig Hutchinson. Inside, on the hour, deputies with the Sheriff's Department arrive to take part in what's known as the Overwatch.
"Most of the officers that are standing Overwatch right now, over Craig, are like members of his family, they've known him for years,” said Lt. Ronald Sanders.
Sanders is commander of the 17 member Travis County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard. The watch assignment at the funeral home for those taking part, according to Sanders, is more than a symbolic gesture, it’s deeply personal.
“It’s very important, very emotional .... to a lot of these people and want to render this honor to him by standing there watching over him for the next hour until the next person relieves them,” said Sanders.
In evening on Monday, August 1 members of the honor guard will take positions on either side of the casket during the visitation. After that the Overwatch will continue until the funeral.
The Honor Guard typically is used for special events and ceremonies. Members of the team were recently sent to Dallas to help honor the five officers killed during an ambush by a sniper. But this is the first time in almost two years since they've had to care for one of their own; lost in the line of duty.
The funeral held for Deputy Jessica Hollis is similar to what's being planned for Sgt. Hutchinson. Just as for Hollis, pallbearers for Hutchinson will be his close co-workers.
"She was loved by her shift, loved by the department, but with Craig he's been here for 32 years, he is an icon with the department he - everybody knew him, everybody loved him, he is a great guy, to have him lost like this is quite a blow to the whole department, emotionally physically, everyone is feeling something about it, so we want to make sure we render the proper honors to him,” said Sanders.
The Honor Guard will handle the flag presentation. It is a tradition at funerals for military and law enforcement families.
"There are no rookies on this group that will be doing this event, every one of the officers who will be doing this event have at least two to three years’ experience in the honor guard,” said Sanders.
A temporary badge has also been secured for Hutchinson. He will wear it during the coming ceremonies because his actual badge, which he had on when he was shot, is currently classified as evidence. Eventually that badge will be returned to his family.
The visitation will be held Monday, August 1 in the afternoon. It will last from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Cook-Walden funeral home on North Lamar.
The funeral is set for Tuesday, August 2 at 10:00 a.m. at Shoreline Church on Burnet. The graveside service will take place at the Cook Walden-Capital Parks Cemetery.