Honoring Aiken’s Finest

January 11, 2019

The thundering sound of a bass drum could be heard Monday afternoon on Laurens Street as a funeral procession of around 400 followed an antique fire engine holding the casket of former Aiken Public Safety Chief J. Carrol Busbee, Sr.

Law enforcement from across the state gathered Monday at First Baptist Church for Busbee’s funeral.

Busbee died in his home on Jan. 3 at the age of 86, surrounded by his family and friends.

Current Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco walked into the church Monday standing with his wife and Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt. All officers with the Aiken Department of Public Safety followed behind.

“This was truly an honorable send-off for a remarkably honorable man,” Barranco said.

Busbee’s eulogy was given by Rev. Dr. Fred W. Andrea III.

“Chief Busbee was called to his life’s work, yet humble in his accomplishments,” Andrea said. “He always mentored others and put them first.”

Following the funeral, police officers lined up outside the church saluting as Busbee’s casket was loaded onto a 1943 fire engine, which was refurbished in the 1980s and is now used in parades and celebratory events.

“The fire engine was a nice tribute to carry (Busbee) on his last ride,” Barranco said.

Lt. Jake Mahoney, with Aiken Public Safety, then rang the big bell outside the agency’s headquarters to start the funeral procession. The big bell was once set up in Aiken, when it was just a village, said former Public Safety Chief Peter Frommer.

“Chief Busbee was the father of this department,” Mahoney said. “I had the opportunity to serve him and send him off today. I felt extremely honored.”

Officers closed off parts of Laurens Street as the funeral procession, consisting of Busbee’s family, friends and police officers, followed the fire engine to Bethany Cemetery, a few blocks up from the Aiken Public Safety headquarters.

″(Busbee) set so many things in place here in Aiken, and encouraged so many people,” Barranco said. “We will continue to follow the example he set.”

In April 2019, Aiken Public Safety will open the doors to a new headquarters located at 843 Beaufort St. N.E. in downtown Aiken. The new building will be named in Busbee’s honor as the J. Carrol Busbee Headquarters.

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