(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, July 21, 2014 10:00 AM
Seeing his grandfather in a dress uniform while serving on honor guard duty helped inspire Jason O’Rourke to become a police officer.
Now the Westlake Police Department member is working to get the department’s first honor guard going.
“Me and Cpl. Doug Broussard talked about starting it a few years ago, right when we became partners,” O’Rourke said. “We got together with a lot of local businesses that donated money. We raised enough to get uniforms for our three-man team— myself, Cpl. Broussard and Sgt. Rodney Grantham. We are looking to make a four-man team but don’t have the funds yet. We raised just over $5,000 to get the first set of uniforms.”
Police honor guards are voluntary units that help honor fallen civil servants.
“We attend funerals of fallen police officers and firefighters and want to do fund raisers for charities,” O’Rourke said. “We would like to go anywhere in the state of Louisiana any time an officer falls. We can only go so far because we have a small department. You represent your police department in the finest uniform you can buy. Years ago my grandfather was a member of an honor guard. When he put on that uniform, it made him look more professional. It is an honor to wear it. It is dedication to your department and to your brothers and sisters in law enforcement.”
Jason’s grandfather made sure he knew being a police officer required lots of determination, without much financial reward.
“His name was Anthony O’Rourke, he worked in New York, New Orleans, in Calcasieu Parish and just before he passed away, here in Westlake with me,” Jason said.
“He told me a long time ago that police officers don’t make a lot of money, so be prepared. One thing he told me that I would never forget is that during the first couple of months, if I did not get up and be excited about what I was going to do, go find something else.”
Jason never had second thoughts.
“It is in my blood,” he said. “I have been with WPD since 2009. I started in 1999 and took a leave of absence. My favorite part of the job is going out to a call and seeing a child that is scared smile when they see us. I just enjoy helping the community. It is my hometown and I want to protect the citizens. We are a close-knit department, I could not ask for any place better. The morale is real good and we have a great group of officers.”
He said the community responded in a big way when he started raising funds for uniforms.
“This community is so awesome,” he said. “We got donations from $25 to $500 and $1,000. People told us they were proud of the Westlake Police Department and the job we do. The other officers thought it was great idea and we got great support from the department and community.”
Jason said he would like to see the WPD honor guard eventually double in size.
“Down the road, I would like to have a six-man team of fully dressed officers where we can march in the parades, bring a four-man team to functions so we would have two left behind to help cover,” he said.
For more information or to make a donation, call the Westlake Police Department, 433-4151.