Four Knights of Columbus chapters honored local law enforcement Sept. 30 by awarding Lawman of the Year awards to Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Deputy First Class Ashlee Gautreaux, Louisiana State Trooper Ryan Beard and Gonzales Police Officer Tyson Dennis.
The banquet, usually attended by 200 or more Knights of Columbus members from St. Theresa of Avila, Holy Mary, St. Mark and St. John the Evangelist councils, held a small event because of the coronavirus, said St. Theresa council Grand Knight Craig Braud.
He said while many thought they would cancel the 45th annual event, he said it was important to honor local law enforcement "especially during these times."
Louisiana State Police Lt. Markus Smith called his department's winner "one of my best troopers."
In presenting Beard with his award, Smith said Beard is a jokester who is professional and willing to assist others. Beard drafted a new field training manual for the department, which Smith said will be considered to replace the department's existing documents.
"He volunteered to do this on his own," Smith said, adding that Beard is attending accident reconstruction class.
Sheriff Bobby Webre said he appreciated the knights' efforts to host the banquet, despite its small attendance. Tables and seats were spaced out and most in attendance wore face coverings.
"We really needed this," Webre said, pointing to unrest in the country that leaves some officers uneasy.
He said Gautreaux, a 911 operator, was instrumental in completing a three-year process that resulted in a new certification for the communication center.
"She is the future of 911," Webre said.
Gonzales Chief of Police Sherman Jackson called Dennis a dedicated officer who is a self-defense instructor for the department and a member of the SWAT team.
In 2019, Dennis' keen eye stopped an ambulance "that just didn't look right," Webre said.
Inside the damaged ambulance was a man who eventually admitted that he stole the vehicle in Natchitoches.