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Louisiana officers who passed away due to COVID-19 remembered in Washington

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 11:02 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It is National Police Week in our nation’s capital, a time when officers and their families remember the ones they lost over the past year. This past year brought an unexpected danger to Louisiana’s police departments.

“You really couldn’t serve people because you couldn’t be around people that much,” said Sheriff Gary Gilley from Richland Parish, LA.

As COVID-19 consumed the country, police departments were not spared. Gilley felt the full wrath of the virus, losing one of his best officers, Randy Vallot.

“Randy was one of those guys that was always out in the community always talking to people always helping people,” said Gilley.

Gilley says community policing became difficult, and in Vallot’s case it became fatal. He contracted the virus in the community and eventually lost his fight.

“It was a very trying time for all of us,” said Gilley.

Normally National Police Week is a massive weeklong event with thousands of officers and families from around the country here in DC. But it is virtual this year because of the lingering presence of the deadly virus.

“We all thought he was just in the hospital for a routine sickness. Then all of a sudden we hear Kejuan’s passed away,” said Vidalia, LA Police Chief Joey Merrill.

Merrill and his department were also delivered a blow by COVID-19, losing officer Kejuane Bates. Bates was a pastor, and someone who could bring the team together. He is happy Police Week is still carrying on in a virtual manner, saying it delivers a boost to officers from around the country.

“It’s a good week,” said Merrill.

There are plans to hold in-person remembrances for fallen officers in October.

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