Click here to view a news report broadcast by News Channel 5 in Alexandria, La., on the arrival of the three donated police cruisers to Montgomery, La. Police Department.
When Kevin Billiot first took over as chief of the struggling Montgomery, La. Police Department in April 2011, he was in need of everything from heavy-duty winter gear and uniforms for his officers to big-ticket items like in-car video equipment and trustworthy patrol vehicles.
On April 28, Billiot saw several months of networking and paperwork come to fruition when three donated cruisers from the Gila River Indian Community Police Department in Arizona rolled into Montgomery. The cruisers were escorted by riders from across the country affiliated with the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
Under the leadership of club President Michael Broman, retired and active law enforcement officers in the club’s Louisiana Chapter XIII raised money and made the nearly 2,800-mile round trip journey at no cost to the City of Montgomery to deliver the cruisers to Billiot’s department.
“This is the part of the brotherhood of law enforcement worth celebrating—this is cops helping cops—brothers and sisters in uniform backing each other up, no matter whether the challenge is tactical or financial.”
Dave Mather, executive director
Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Regional Center (SRTB-RC),
a public safety program operated by The Center for Rural Development
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.
Billiot and SRTB-RC first crossed paths in December 2011 at the Rural Law Enforcement Technology Institute. The Institute is a national seminar in Annapolis Md. hosted by SRTB-RC for command officers from the nation’s small and rural departments.
The Institute brings nearly 40 chiefs, sheriffs, and command officers together and gives 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 was simply asking other participants for help finding funding sources for officer-worn video cameras.
Mather asked Billiot to compile a complete list of his department’s most critical needs, and officers at the Institute responded immediately. By the end of the weeklong event, Billiot had offers of donated surplus in-car video systems, uniforms, and ID badges, among other gear.
The offer of patrol cruisers came from Institute participant Dan Brown, at the time a commander with the Gila River Indian Community Police Department.
National and local media reports following the Institute resulted in additional offers, including a cruiser-capable vehicle from a local car dealership and more uniforms from a vendor near the department.
In all, Billiot’s department has received slightly more than $75,000 in donated equipment and supplies since his appearance at the Institute and his story first broke on the national Associated Press wire service on Christmas Day.
He is planning to pay such kindness forward by agreeing to donate one of the newly received cruisers from Arizona to the Atlanta, La. Police Department in Grant Parrish, a small agency with similar issues.
“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.”
“What I love most about this story is that as much as Montgomery Police Department and Chief Billiot could use the equipment that has been donated to him, Chief Billiot has already begun to help others by offering some of the equipment to a neighboring department that is also in need of assistance,” Mather said. “That spirit truly is what this is all about.”
For more information on SRTB-RC and its programs, contact Executive Director Dave Mather at 606-677-6000, or visit www.srtbrc.org.[flickrset id=”72157629634350260″ thumbnail=”square” photos=”” overlay=”true” size=”square”]