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July 31, 2014

Paying it forward

Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Billiot, second from left, and Gila River, Az., officials

Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Billiot believes in “paying it forward.”

Earlier this year, Billiot’s struggling police department in Montgomery, La., received three donated police cruisers from the Gila River, Az. Police Department.

With only a need for two of the three donated vehicles, Billiot is “paying” such kindness forward by donating one of the newly acquired cruisers to another small, struggling police department in Atlanta Village.

Atlanta, a village in Winn Parish, La., has a total population of 150 and around 80 housing units, according to the 2000 census.

The offer for the donated police cruisers from Gila River came about through networking opportunities made available to Billiot and other small and rural law enforcement officers from across the United States at the December 2011 Rural Law Enforcement Technology Institute held in Annapolis, Md.

The Institute, hosted by the Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Regional Center (SRTB-RC), a public safety program operated by The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, brought nearly 40 chiefs, sheriffs, and command officers together and gave each a platform to share a presentation on low-cost, highly effective technology and planning solutions for common small-agency issues.

In Billiot’s case, he asked Institute participants for help finding funding sources for officer-worn video cameras when then-commander Dan Brown of the Gila River, Az. Police Department spoke up and volunteered to donate three used vehicles from his department to the Montgomery Police Department.

The SRTB-RC and other officers in attendance at the Institute also pitched in to help meet some of Billiot’s department most critical needs. By the end of the week-long Institute, Billiot had offers of donated surplus in-car video systems, uniforms, and ID badges, among other gear.

Motorcycle riders from across the country affiliated with the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club even volunteered to make the 2,800-mile round trip to Gila River and drive the donated vehicles back to Montgomery at no cost to the city.

On April 28, members of the Blue Knights—made up of active and retired law enforcement officers—successfully delivered the three donated vehicles to Billiot’s department.

“Without the help of The Center for Rural Development and SRTB-RC, none of this would have been possible,” Billiot said. “My attendance at the 2011 Rural Law Enforcement Technology Institute has helped catapult our department into the 21st Century.”

For more information on SRTB-RC and its programs, contact acting director Danny Ball at 606-677-6000 or visit www.srtbrc.org.

SRTB-RC is a Somerset, Ky.-based program with a national focus that serves small and rural police departments within The Center’s 42-county primary service area in Southern and Eastern Kentucky and throughout the United States.

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