McPherson Police Department’s Lt. Jerry Montagne was recognized and honored Saturday as the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for the state of Kansas.
“Each year, the American Legion gives its Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award to a well-rounded law enforcement officer who has exceeded the duty requirements expected of his or her position and has demonstrated a distinct pattern of community service coupled with professional achievement,” stated McPherson Police Chief Rob McClarty as he formerly addressed the McPherson City Commissioners this morning during their weekly session, Lt. Montagne by his side.
Law Enforcement Officers of the Year awards recognize officers who go above and beyond the call of duty. The award is presented annually at the American Legion state convention, which took place this year in Hutchinson.
Police Chief McClarty lauded Lt. Montagne to the commissioners and praised the award as a symbol of his asset to the local police force.
“Lt. Montagne received this plaque for outstanding, selfless service over and above the normal duties through community service and professional achievement, thereby exemplifying the meaning of the phrase, ‘America’s Bravest,’” said McClarty.
“You reflect great credit upon yourself and the McPherson Police Department,” continued McClarty, turning to address Montagne directly.
Lt. Montagne presented to the commissioners his acceptance speech that he gave Saturday in Hutchinson, where a great crowd turned out at the American Legion state convention to witness him receiving the honor.
His entire speech is below:
“My name is Jerry Montagne with the McPherson Police Department.
“I first want to thank my wife Janice of 31 years for supporting me in my 33 years of law enforcement. She was my support for all these years.
“And thank you to my three children for all the time they sacrificed for me not being there.
“A large thanks to my fellow officers at the McPherson PD (Police Department). A supervisor is only as good as his support team, and without them, I wouldn’t be here receiving this award.
“I want to thank Jim LaDuke from my [American Legion] Post for nominating me, and all the members of Post 24 where I am a current member – a great bunch of guys.
“I want to apologize to the American Legion: When I first got this letter informing me that I was selected as Officer of the Year, I thought it was a bill for my dues, and I started to cuss at it.”
(Those present for his speech at the city commission meeting got a good laugh out of that.)
Lt. Montagne continued, “There are many officers out there who deserve this award more than me, but I am grateful.
“I started law enforcement actually at the age of 13 when I joined the local Police Explorers Group in 1973 in Sioux City, Iowa. I still have my first badge (which he held up for the audience to see).
“As a kid growing up, I always wanted to be a police officer. However, I was a short kid, and my father said I would have to work very hard at it if I wanted to succeed.
“My dad served in World War II and was a tank driver. After the war, he was a railroad engineer for 42 years. I served in the Iowa and Kansas Air National Guard as a security policeman where I obtained the rank of sergeant. With all this, I credit my military upbringing that helped me succeed.
“One thing I do regret is that my mother passed away last month. I think she would have been very happy for me on this day.
“I’m very proud to serve the citizens of McPherson and the people of the state of Kansas.
“Again, I’m very honored and humbled for this award. Thank you.”
Mayor Tom Brown praised Lt. Montagne this morning for being one of the biggest public relations assets for the community, and he commented to those present that he had told Montagne that he was sure his mother knew about the award.