Jul 26, 2014 1:24 PM by AP
WESTLAKE, La. (AP) - When Jason O'Rourke saw his grandfather in a dress uniform while serving on honor guard duty, it inspired him to join the force.
Now the Westlake Police officer is working to get the department's first honor guard going. The American Press reports such voluntary units help honor fallen civil servants.
"We attend funerals of fallen police officers and firefighters and want to do fundraisers 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, Anthony O'Rourke, who served communities in New York, New Orleans, Calcasieu Parish and Westlake, made sure he knew being a police officer required lots of determination, without much financial reward.
"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 O'Rourke said of his grandfather.
But Jason O'Rourke said he never had second thoughts about his chosen profession.
"It is in my blood," he said.
O'Rourke said he and Cpl. Doug Broussard, his partner, and Sgt. Rodney Grantham make up the current three-man team.
"We got together with a lot of local businesses that donated money," O'Rourke said. "We raised enough to get uniforms for our three-man team. 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."
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."
Ultimately, O'Rourke said they'd like the current honor guard team to 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 at 337-433-4151.