Knights of Columbus honor law officers

Three lawmen described as having a superb work ethic, excellent attention to detail, leadership skills and keen senses were named Law Enforcement Officers of the Year during a recent banquet hosted by five area Knights of Columbus councils.

Gonzales Police Cpl. Randy Clouatre Jr., Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Gunness and State Trooper Timothy Moise received plaques during the Sept. 25 banquet held at the St. Theresa of Avila Knights of Columbus Council 2657 hall.

The event, which has been held since 1976, also welcomed three police officers from Moore, Okla., the site of a powerful May 20 tornado that killed 23 people.

Sheriff Jeff Wiley introduced the three Moore police officers.

Wiley said he first met the men while serving food in Moore after the tornado.

“On May 20, a EF5 tornado struck Moore and ... resulting in loss of life, loss property and a incredible damage of spirit,” Wiley said.

Wiley said he and several members of his department went to Moore to cook for the first responders.

Red beans and rice, étouffée and other south Louisiana dishes were served during the trip.

Wiley said he walked away with lifelong friendships.

Three of those new friends — Scott Marshall, Len Cooper and Justin Weaver — were in town last week for a visit and Wiley invited them to the KC banquet.

After the banquet, the three presented Wiley with gifts, including a tornado-shaped challenge coin, a popular gift in lawman circles.

Wiley, Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson and State Police Lt. John Cannon thanked the Knights of Columbus for honoring lawmen.

Gunness, Wiley said, has worked at the Sheriff’s Office for the six years. Gunness began his career as a corrections officer at the Ascension Parish Jail and was later assigned to the patrol division “where he has earned the reputation of being a dedicated, hard worker with a work and moral ethic second to none.”

Gunness is one of the department’s field training officers.

In the past year, Gunness responded to 1,684 calls.

Cannon said Moise, who has been with State Police for 13 years, “is dedicated to making the roads safer for motorists throughout the Troop A area and Ascension Parish.”

Moise was described being a “solid employee, asset to the team and positive role model.”

Clouatre, who has been with the Gonzales police for seven years, is a supervisor with the department’s uniform patrol division and works with the local schools to develop crisis response and tactical operations plans in the event of an active shooter situation.

“During his tenure ... Corporal Clouatre has taken on many other duties and responsibilities within the department and has demonstrated excellent leadership skills throughout his experience and is never hesitant to take on a challenge or take charge in the absence of a supervisor,” Jackson said. “Cpl. Clouatre has truly proved himself to be a team player and leader and is well liked and respected within the ranks.”