Sulphur officers pay respects to four killed in line of duty

SULPHUR — Officers lined up one by one to drop a light blue ribbon into a basket placed below four photos to pay their respects to four deputies killed in the state last year.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Randall Beniot, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputies Brandon Nelsen and Jeremy Triche, and Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ricky Issac Jr. died in the line of duty in 2012.

Sulphur Police Chief Lewis Coats said being a police officer is “being part of a brotherhood.”

“When we lose a brother, no matter if it’s at this department, the parish, on the state level or even the federal level ... when they hurt, we hurt,” he said. “When you cut us we all bleed blue. We’re all out here doing the same job.”

Although the Sulphur Police Department hasn’t had an officer killed in the line of duty in more than 90 years, Coats said he can’t help but think of the “close calls” his men have faced.

“When I think about this police department and how we have been saved from tragedy, I think of Officer Glen Romero’s crash a few years ago,” Coats said.

“I think about Caleb Hollingsworth, who was nearly crushed between two vehicles by a fleeing suspect. I think about Capt. Craig Thortonberry and Sgt. Mike Strother, who responded to one of the most dangerous calls an officer can respond to — a robbery where the suspects are armed and still inside. These guys all walked away. The bad guys went to jail, and they went home to their families.”

The average time on the job for officers killed in Louisiana last year was 12 years; their average age was 40, Assistant Chief Billy Craddock said.

“Officers go to work every day prepared to face any danger presented ... for people they have never met,” he said. “They chose to dedicate their lives to a noble profession.”

Each of the four officers’ names rang out three times from dispatch, “headquarters to Deputy Sheriff Randall L. Beniot, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office ... end of watch Jan. 18, 2012.”