LaPlace, LA (FOX44) — The town of LaPlace may never get over a shooting that killed two sheriff's deputies and hurt two others.
But thanks to the help of the community, the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office is better protected now than it ever has been, through the donation of bulletproof vests.
"You know, the sheriff, and this department, have experienced many challenges in just the last year," Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) said Wednesday.
Those challenges started last August, when a couple of homegrown terrorists killed deputies Jeremy Triche and Brandon Nielsen, and wounded Jason Triche and Michael Boyington. Just two weeks later, Hurricane Isaac brought more flooding than LaPlace residents could ever recall.
"We had a terrible storm, where many of these deputies lost their homes, including the sheriff, himself," Sen. Landrieu said.
Also damaged in the storm were many bulletproof vests, as deputies waded into the water to rescue people who were stranded.
A bulletproof vest is a "very good piece of equipment for us to do our jobs," Sheriff Mike Tregre said, "for the officers to get back home to their families, like they should be equipped, to do their job."
Tregre asked residents and businesses to help them buy new vests to replace the ones they had lost. But people contributed much more than that. All told, they raised $138,000.
"Every member of St. John Sheriff's Office, including our K-9 division, has vests," Tregre said.
Sen. Landrieu was among those who donated.
"I asked her to help any way she could," Tregre recalled. "I didn't expect her, neither did I ask her, for our campaign for bulletproof vests. But she stepped up, like so many others did."
"Law enforcement needs to be protected in every way," she replied. "They do their very best to protect us. We have got to provide them the resources for training and for equipment that keeps them safe in very dangerous circumstances and situations."
She brought a vest to LaPlace on Wednesday for Jason Triche, who spent three months in the hospital after the shooting.
"We're sorry that you went through it," she told him. "We know you're heartbroken for the colleagues that were lost, and you'll never forget that day and that time. But hopefully this vest will keep you safe and bring you home safely every night."
Triche, who does not currently work for the Sheriff's Office as he continues to recover from the injuries he suffered in the shooting, kept his remarks brief.
"I just want to appreciate the state for giving us these vests to the Sheriff's Office," he said.
Sen. Landrieu also brought resolutions from the Senate honoring the widows of Jeremy Triche and Brandon Nielsen, giving each of them hugs. She said 120 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2012.