Organization behind large Minnesota law enforcement funerals mourns founder’s passing

The organization behind all the law enforcement funerals in Minnesota is now mourning the loss of its founder.

Jim Crawford founded the Law Enforcement Memorial Association in 1974, after attending a funeral for a fellow officer and decided he wanted to do more.

Crawford passed away at the age of 89 this month. He was with the organization until his death, remaining very involved until about a year ago, when his health took a turn. The organization’s president says Crawford remained a guiding light until his passing.

"Everything that we do is based on Jim’s passion to make sure we honor our fallen officers and support those officers left behind," said LEMA president Brian Hubbard.

Hubbard said Crawford’s main focus was always supporting the survivors, a value the organization will continue to honor. He estimates he oversaw more than 200 law enforcement funerals in his tenure.

Next week, LEMA will host the largest funeral in its history. Organizers are expecting more than 7,000 people at the memorial service honoring three fallen Burnsville first responders. Hubbard says the event wouldn’t have been possible without Crawford’s guidance over the years.

"He just always cared about the officer and about the person, and that’s his legacy," said Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson. "We always relied on him for that final say – that approval."

He started as a beat officer in Edina in 1956. He went on to be Police Chief in North St. Paul and retired in 1982 as Police Chief of Golden Valley.

Crawford also founded the Minnesota Association for Injured Police Officers.

A public funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview on Feb. 23.