SPRINGDALE, Ohio — Despite COVID-19 limitations, Springdale police officers said they worked with Grant's family to plan her funeral, which starts today at 9:00 a.m.
The day of memorial begins with a procession starting at Spring Grove Funeral Homes at 4389 Spring Grove Ave. in Cincinnati and will travel up Vine Street and State Route 4. It will make stops at Wyoming High school and Springdale Police and Fire Departments. The procession will then continue northeast on Lanwnview Avenue, east on Kemper Road and south on Century Boulevard to the Vineyard Church Chapel in Springdale, located at 11340 Century Circle. The remainder of the services will be held at Vineyard Church Chapel.
Residents along the procession route are encouraged to step outside to support Officer Grant, but Springdale police will be ensuring the public practices social distancing.
WCPO will be streaming the funeral procession and ceremony live on air, online and on Facebook.
Other officers are putting up black cloth at the memorial in front of Springdale Police Department where Officer Grant’s patrol car is parked. @WCPO pic.twitter.com/fl2XDnYfhX
— Courtney Francisco (@CFranciscoWCPO) March 23, 2020
Springdale Officer Keenan Riordan told WCPO 9 honoring Officer Grant is still possible amid COVID-19 restrictions.
"We are going to find ways," he said. "Kaia will be honored 100 percent. No doubt about it. There’s no worries."
The memorial has been growing in the hours since the 33-year-old Grant was killed by a driver fleeing pursuing officers on Interstate 275 Saturday night. Police parked a cruiser there and draped it with black cloth to represent grief. As people stopped and dropped off flowers, many choked up from learning the details of her death.
Gov. Mike DeWine ordered flags on public buildings in Hamilton County lowered to half staff, and homeowners have joined in the tribute. A small memorial was set up in the front window of the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, which is closed due to the virus.
“I think that means a lot to us as Springdale Police in addition to Kaia’s family,” Riordan said. “We are doing everything we can to relay all this to them. They are seeing all the efforts the community is making.”
But planning a tribute and funeral under this extraordinary public health crisis will be challenging.
Usually hundreds turn out for the visitation and funeral of a fallen Tri-State officer or firefighter, and sometimes thousands line the streets during a funeral procession.
“We want people to be able to grieve and honor Kaia,” Riordan said.
Grant was born and raised in Wyoming, Ohio, and graduated from Wyoming High School in 2005. She had been a Springdale officer since 2012.
Grant’s parents want to establish a scholarship fund in Kaia's name, Riordan added. For starters, they asked Springdale police to put aside any donations in her name to help other women become police officers.
“I thought, ‘What a great idea!’” Riordan said. "Kaia would have just loved that."
Cincinnati-based company Remarkable Designs is also selling t-shirts in Grant's honor, with $10 of each shirt sold benefiting Grant's family.
Grant was fatally struck while she and Sgt. Andrew Davis were putting down stop sticks near the Springdale Road exit about 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. Police say the suspect, 42-year-old Terry Blankenship, deliberately crashed into their police cruisers, which then hit the officers. Davis was treated at a hospital and released a few hours later.
Blankenship, who was hospitalized, was wanted on a felony warrant in Blanchester, Ohio. Police there said he broke into his ex-wife's trailer last Thursday, pistol-whipped her boyfriend and threatened to kill him.
Police said a gun was found at the Springdale crash scene.
The Blanchester police chief wrote Monday that Grant died protecting the people of that town.
Grant is the first female officer in the Tri-State to die in the line of duty outside of a jail, according to the Police Museum website. The site records 206 local, state and federal officers killed since 1845 and lists only two other women. Both were jail matrons killed on the job more than 100 years ago, Rosa A. Regan in 1908 and Anna M. Hart in 1916.