Each year, the Knights of Columbus Archbishop Rummel Council 5747 in Chalmette recognizes a local sheriff’s deputy, firefighter and paramedic of the year for their service to the residents of St. Bernard Parish.
Deputy Dixie Dusang, a four-year veteran of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, was named Deputy of the Year. Capt. Rodney Ourso, a 25-year veteran of the St. Bernard Fire Department, was named Firefighter of the Year, and Steven Givens, a six-year veteran with Acadian Ambulance, was named Paramedic of the Year.
The three first responders were honored during a banquet held Dec. 17 at the Knights of Columbus hall on Paris Road in Chalmette. In addition to presenting the honorees with plaques, they each also were given monetary donations from the organization. The Knights also gave a donation to the Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division.
Dep. Dixie Dusang’s first experience in law enforcement came in 2012 as a volunteer deputy with the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division. One year later, Dep. Dusang was hired as a full-time, paid deputy and member of the department’s Corrections Division where she spent two years working at St. Bernard Parish Prison.
In 2015, Dep. Dusang graduated from Peace Officers Standards and Training, or P.O.S.T., basic police academy, and she joined the Patrol Division’s Second Platoon. In 2016, she attended a 3-day Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement course, and she also earned a coveted spot in the department’s Motorcycle Division.
Born and raised in Hall County, Georgia, Dep. Dusang, now 30, has called St. Bernard Parish home since 2009. She resides in Meraux with her husband and St. Bernard native, Jay, and their two young children.
Dep. Dusang’s passion for helping the people of the place she now calls home is evident to everyone she meets, especially two of her ranking officers, Lt. Richard Barr and Sgt. Jorge Vargas.
“The empathy that she carries with her on calls is exceptional,” Lt. Barr said. “She understands the things people are going through and she is able to relate in a very constructive way which enables her to control the scene and keep things at a norm.”
In September 2017, Lt. Barr said, Dep. Dusang answered a call for service involving a small child approximately 2 years of age who was seen wandering alone and unsupervised in a Chalmette neighborhood. Dep. Dusang located the child and walked the block, knocking on doors until the child’s family was located. Dep. Dusang’s investigation subsequently included the arrests of two subjects, and resulted in the opening of additional investigations.
Lt. Barr said Dep. Dusang does whatever it takes to get the task at hand done, at times going above and beyond. He is especially proud of her for completing the rigorous Motorcycle School.
“It’s extremely challenging, and there’s a high dropout rate, even among big, strong men,” Lt. Barr said, “but Dep. Dusang pulled it off. She was bruised up and injured, but she completed it. I couldn’t be more impressed with her.”
Sgt. Vargas also commends Dep. Dusang for her dedication to the department and the people she serves.
“She has proven herself as a very good deputy,” Sgt. Vargas said. “In addition to being a mother of two, Dep. Dusang is extremely dedicated to this department. Some people see this as a job, but she sees it as a career.”
While a police officer’s job can be extremely challenging in today’s world, Dep. Dusang always strives to find the silver lining and is the epitome of humble.
On a recent August afternoon, Dep. Dusang was approached by a man at a local gas station who asked if she remembered him. Dep. Dusang could not recall where they had met, but the man went on to say, “Six months ago I woke up to horrible pain and your face,” the man said. “You were giving me a sternum rub after I overdosed. I kept trying to go back out, but you kept me awake. I cursed you out. I just wanted to say I’m sorry and thank you. I’ve been completely clean since that day.”
Dep. Dusang said she doesn’t like to brag, but it’s moments like the encounter with that man that make her love what she does.
“St. Bernard is where I’ve chosen to call home and raise my children so protecting my community and making it a safe place for them to grow up is a top priority,” she said. “I enjoy my job because it gives me a purpose and the opportunity to interact with such a variety of people from all walks of life and hopefully impact their lives in a positive way.”
Knight of Columbus Community Chairman Cisco Gonzales Sr. said the Knights of Columbus gives the awards “to recognize our public servants. We appreciate the work they do in this parish.’’
Sheriff James Pohlmann thanked the Knights of Columbus for recognizing the public servants in St. Bernard Parish.
“We have some top-notch first responders working here in the Sheriff’s Office, the Fire Department and for Acadian Ambulance,” the Sheriff said.
The Sheriff also praised Dep. Dusang, who stands tall at 6’4”, as being a “great deputy, one that both men and women can look up to, both literally and figuratively.”