APSO honors fallen officers

Leslie D. Rose @DvilleNewsie @Editor_Citizen

The names of six Louisiana lawmen were called out, one-by-one, as roses were placed in a vase by their photos and a chime rang to call them home. Each man honored was killed in the line-of-duty last year.

Honoring Officers James Bennett, Jr. - Housing Authority of New Orleans, Daryle S. Holloway and Vernell Brown, Jr. - New Orleans Police Dept., Steven Vincent - Trooper, Louisiana State Police, Henry Nelson - Sunset Police Dept., and St. Amant native, Thomas LaValley - Shreveport Police Dept. - the Peace Officer's Memorial was hosted by the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office at their training facility on May 20.

Lt. David Martin was the master of ceremonies, and tributes and words were shared by various area law enforcement officials including APSO chaplains Ken Spivey and Fernando Gutierrez, Sgt. Mike Brooks - who sang the national anthem, Lt. Col. Bobby Webre, Col. Paul Robert, Major Kevin Hanna and retired Lt. Will Brian - who played the bagpipes. Also in attendance were other law enforcement, city and parish officials, Louisiana State Police Troops A and C, Gonzales and Shreveport Police Depts., Clerk of Court Bridget Hanna, State Reps. Ed Price, Johnny Berthelot and Tony Bacala, District Attorney Ricky Babin and Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan. Also present was the family of Officer Thomas LaValley.

LaValley was individually recognized several times as the only honored officer with roots in Ascension Parish. The 29-year-old officer served four years with the Shreveport Police Dept. and waskilled in the line of duty on Aug. 5, 2015. He was a 2003 graduate of St. Amant High School and a member of the wrestling team. He graduated from Northwestern State University and first began a career at KTBS Channel 3 as a videographer before going on to the Shreveport Police Academy and graduating at the top of his class.

"Perhaps the most privileged event in my life was when this department was honored by Shreveport Police Department to join in as they buried their own - Thomas LaValley," said APSO Sheriff Jeff Wiley. "He was ours too - born and raised in a quiet little community called St. Amant. Watching our honor guard and getting to know the family and seeing a distinct part of that sacrifice and memorializing a fine, young man that I never even met but know better than most of my deputies right now. I knew his character, I knew his family, I knew his bloodline, I knew his DNA, I knew his sacrifice - God bless him and God bless his legacy."

Wiley then went on to introduce the keynote speaker, Col. Paul Robert. Robert spoke about police ambushes and officers killed in the line of duty, beginning with the first noted incident of a police killing in 1791 - since then, there have been over 20,000 murders of law enforcement officers.

"Being a law enforcement officer in today's world is a tough job," Robert said.

Major Kevin Hanna performed the roll call of the fallen officers and a 21-gun salute was performed followed by the bagpipe playing of Amazing Grace by retired Lt. Will Brian.

APSO Chaplain Fernando Gutierrez did the benediction where he submitted the officers to the Lord.

"To honor all fallen officers who we now command to you," Gutierrez prayed.

Lt. David Martin closed the program and lunch was served in the dining hall.