New Orleans Police Department Officer Bryan Bordes was remembered Saturday for his ever-present smile, easygoing nature and willingness to put himself in harm’s way during his 18 years on the force, much of it spent patrolling the streets of the French Quarter.
Bordes, 43, who collapsed with a ruptured aorta and died while on duty on Bourbon Street July 3,
was memorialized at Household of Faith Church in New Orleans East before hundreds of family, friends and fellow officers.
During a troubled week for law enforcement in Louisiana and across the country, Bordes was hailed as the kind of cop you simply can’t have enough of.
“Bryan was the epitome of what you look for in a police officer,” 8th District Cmdr. Jeffrey Walls said. “I wish I had 10 more like him. He put everyone before himself.”
“Eighteen years of excellent service, without a blemish,” NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said. “Eighteen years he dedicated his life to the community that he loved. And a community that loved him.”
Bordes joined the force in 1997 and spent a year in the 7th District after graduating from the Police Academy. He then spent five years in the 6th District and about three with the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
In early 2006, Bordes transferred to the 8th District and soon began patrolling in the French Quarter, an assignment he cherished.
“It takes a certain character to work on Bourbon Street,” Walls said of the beat, which requires the right mix of tolerance, understanding and bravery. “You have to have that love and compassion that he had for everybody. He fit that mold perfectly … and did such a good job for us.”
Walls singled out occasions during which Bordes ran toward gunfire. One was the June 2014 early morning gun battle on Bourbon Street
that killed Brittany Thomas and wounded nine others. Bordes was one of the first officers to the scene and chased an armed man he saw running away, though he lost him in the crowd.
“If necessary, Bryan would have given his life to save others,” Walls said. “He was a true hero.”
Officer Verna Jones, who patrolled the French Quarter with Bordes for four years ending in 2010, said he was like a big brother to her and was well liked by the denizens of the Vieux Carre.
“You never heard him scream; you never heard him fuss. You never heard anything negative out of him at all,” she said. “Everybody knew him. Everybody loved him. And if they needed him, he was always there.”
Harrison noted that Bordes stayed with the department even after his family relocated more than two hours away to Crown Point. He would stay at his parents’ house in Algiers during the week and go home every weekend to be with his wife and three children.
Harrison said Bordes could have worked anywhere he wanted, but “this peacemaker, this child of God stayed in this city so he could serve this city.”
“We are a department he didn’t have to work for,” Harrison said. “But with great pride, dignity, dedication and devotion, he did it anyway.”
Outside the church, after Bordes’ fellow officers carried his casket through the doors and into the white hearse that would take him by the 8th District and on to a private burial service, Mayor Mitch Landrieu hailed Bordes and the rest of the NOPD during “a very troubling and painful time for our country.”
“I’m very proud of the chief and the men and women of the Police Department who’ve shown great professionalism and great discipline in the face of what’s going to be a very emotional time for us,” Landrieu said.
He also praised the city’s residents for their peaceful protests against the killing of two black men by police in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, including a large demonstration Friday evening at Lee Circle.
“We’re in a moment, and it’s important we stand in it the right way so we can come out of it the right way,” Landrieu said.