PORT NECHES — After nearly 38 years in law enforcement, one of the most senior local lawmen is ready to hang up his badge.
Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine informed the city of his intention earlier this year, and the position was posted last week.
City Manager Andre Wimer said once the submission process is complete, city staff will review the applications and decide how to proceed.
How it all began
An avid outdoorsman, Lemoine first considered a career in wildlife management while attending Stephen F. Austin State University. The university stopped offering the forest engineering degree program because he was in his second year of the program, so he changed schools and tracks.
He started working part-time as a security guard when he saw newspaper advertisements for Port Arthur and Beaumont police. In his mind, he saw it as an opportunity to work outdoors, experience an ever-changing career, and help others.
He began his law enforcement career in November 1984 with the Port Arthur Police Department, then moved to Port Neches, where he was hired on March 31, 1986 by Chief Charles Ray Bennefield.
Lemoine rose through the ranks and, under Chief Gene Marsh, attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy. He applied to the program before September 11, 2001, but did not go until 2006.
Yellow brick road, training and more
The shelf behind Lemoine’s desk contains memorabilia showing his personality. Having changed offices fairly recently, it hasn’t moved everything to its current space, but there are pieces like a signed soccer ball, framed photos, artwork of a policeman, an alligator head, antlers deer and a yellow brick he received from the FBI. Academy.
The brick is a memento of completing a six-mile obstacle course, he said.
And when planning his career, he also chose to take leadership training and attended the Law Enforcement Management Institute in Texas, which he says is like Texas’ version of the national academy.
In a 38-year career filled with hurricanes and various crimes, there is no shortage of milestones.
“A lot of funny stuff and not so funny stuff,” Lemoine said as he embarked on a story of bringing a small alligator to the police station and leaving it in a cafe.
“I waited for the guys to come out of the graveyards, for the day shift,” he said as he told the story. “An officer asked what that sound was as the little alligator hissed. The room quickly cleared. »
Lemoine has dealt with wild animals on several occasions, such as the 10-foot-long alligator off Hogaboom Road.
‘I had to get help with this one,’ he said, describing how he put a rope on the alligator, but needed a second person to hold the rope. from behind without giving any slack.
“I had to put another rope on him before I could get on that big boy. We had to make sure he was under control.
As Lemoine got closer, the alligator began to back away, prompting him to remind the other officer what to do. But eventually the alligator was captured and no one was bitten.
The veteran law enforcement officer strives to impart wisdom to young officers upon their arrival.
When new officers arrive, he explained, they sometimes look for those high-octane calls with the lights and sirens, so he tells them about a call he made late on Christmas Eve.
An elderly woman heard noises outside and thought someone was trying to enter her home.
“I get there, and usually when you get a call like this they just say shine your light, check the yard and hopefully I don’t need to talk to you” , he said of the call of the suspicious person. . So he walks around, checks the yard and the windows, then goes to talk to the lady.
“She had cookies and milk and she lives alone,” he said. “I go inside and begin to understand that she is alone. I said it was time for my break. If you don’t mind, I’ll take it here. I hung out with her, talked to her, just visited her. Stuff like that happens and I tell these guys when you get a call about something minor, pretend it’s your grandma. Take your time, go there.
Lemoine said it’s important to the person who called the police, and it’s how you connect with the public.
Lemoine stops again to visit a few retirees.
He also recalled a time when another elderly woman called the police for help and he and his partner came to her aid.
It was around 2 or 3 a.m. on a hot summer night and the inside of the woman’s house was so hot he wondered how she was living there. He asked if she had an air conditioner and she said “yes”, but when he went to check he noticed that the air conditioner coils were dirty.
He wasn’t going to leave the woman like this, so he and the other officer took the coils out, cleaned them, and reinstalled them. After that, the air conditioning blew cold air.
This type of Good Samaritan action was not police work, but was still a way to help the public.
Lemoine plans to officially retire in October, take a break, and then start doing the things the weather didn’t permit while still maintaining his position as chef.
He helps a friend who manages cows, as a carpenter, he will do carpentry and work on expanding his garden so that he and his wife Sharon can do pop-up farmers markets.
He is a master beekeeper with a number of hives and bees. They contribute to the success of his garden.
He and his wife pot honey, fruits and vegetables from their garden.
And he has chickens.
When he finally retires, he will be as busy as one of his bees.
Lemoine was active in a number of organizations including the Port Neches Chamber of Commerce and its church.
Wimer, who worked with Lemoine, said he was a terrific police chief for the townspeople.
“He has been actively involved in the community and I very much appreciate all of his efforts during his tenure,” Wimer said.
Mayor Glenn Johnson said Lemoine was one of the nicest people he had ever met.
“He is professional, intelligent, handles the job impeccably and is very good with the citizens of Port Neches and any other organization he works with,” Johnson said. “We always hate to see someone like Paul Lemoine leave, but at the same time, he has earned this right to retirement. We wish him and Sharon the best, and as they say, “I know where he lives”.