Troop I History
Troop I began as one of the original “districts” of the Louisiana Highway Police in 1928 housed in the basement of the old Lafayette Parish Courthouse. Upon creation of the Louisiana State Police in 1936, Troop I was moved to a rent house near the intersection of US 90 and LA 182. Captain Ledel D. Dupuis became the first commander of the new troop which was responsible for Lafayette and St. Martin Parishes. A few years later the troop was again moved to a larger brick building which was originally a radio station.
Captain Percy M. Primeaux became troop commander in 1958 and began negotiations with the Lafayette Airport Commission and the Lafayette Parish Police Jury for land for a new troop building. A four acre tract of land across from the airport was donated in 1963 to build a new troop which was completed one year later.
In 1969, Troop N in Crowley was closed and Troop I was expanded to included Acadia and Vermilion parishes. Iberia Parish was acquired in 1973 when Troop C was moved from Franklin to Raceland. In 1980 St. Mary Parish was transferred from Troop C to Troop I which gave Troop I six parishes.
In 1976 the troop building across from the airport was expanded to over 6000 square feet with all construction performed by the troopers themselves.
During the 1980’s Troop I moved from its location across from the airport to the newly constructed Region II building on US 167 (later I-49) at Pont Des Mouton. Also, St. Mary Parish was transferred back to Troop C and Troop K in Opelousas was dissolved giving Troop I St. Landry and Evangeline Parishes. Under Governor Foster’s administration, Troop I re-acquired St. Mary Parish in 1996.
Today, Troop I is comprised of eight parishes with a population of about 900,000 and patrols over 8,000 miles. Troop I is currently staffed with 50 troopers 10 sergeants 6 lieutenants, 1 captain, 3 civilian employees, 8 dispatchers, and 1 automotive technician.
Through the years, Troop I has had 14 captains with the most recent one being M. Troy Meche. Past captains of Troop I include Ledel Dupuis (1948-1952), Gordy Simon (1952-1958), Percy M. Primeaux (1958-1964), Ronald F. Coppola, Sr. (1964-1969), Malcom R. Millet (1969-1973), William Lohr (1973-1975), John Chargois (1975-1976), Clifton Cambell (1976-1980), Louis Ackal (1980-1982), Jerry Quebedeaux (1982-1984), Ronald Theriot (1984-2000), Frank Vaughan (2000-2002), W. Tommy Legendre (2002-2006), and M. Troy Meche (2006-2011).
On July 2, 1977, at 5:45 a.m., Trooper Donald C. Cleveland, a trooper at Troop I, was shot and killed in the line of duty. Trooper Cleveland stopped a vehicle on LA 94 for a lighting violation. The vehicle had just pulled out of a lounge parking lot when the stop was made. As the stop was being made, the driver and passenger changed places. While the "new driver," actually the passenger, walked to the rear of the vehicle, the other party exited the vehicle and fired 4 shots at the trooper striking him in the jaw and once in the chest. Trooper Cleveland died in a ditch on the side of the road with his unfired revolver in his hand. His unit was parked on the shoulder of the roadway with its red lights on. At the time of his death, Trooper Donald C. Cleveland was 25 years old and had been a trooper for one year, one month, and two days. He is the only trooper to be killed in the line of duty at Troop I.
Troop I has had several significant events occur in its area over the years that has required the assistance of State Police. Some of the major events in the troop area include Hurricanes Andrew, Rita, Gustave, and Ike. Troop I assisted Troop A with a well blowout that closed the I-10 Basin Bridge for several days resulting in the re-routing of traffic on I-49 and US 190. The Eunice train derailment and the 110 car pileup on I-10 on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge are also just a few of the major incidents that have occurred in the area.
Troop I has had two of its original troopers reach the highest rank within State Police. Colonel Donald Thibodeaux, from Crowley and originally assigned to Troop N, served as the Superintendant of State Police from 1972 until 1976. Colonel Terry Landry, from Lafayette, served as Superintendant of State Police from 2000 until 2004.
Moving forward into the future, Troop I will continue to patrol the state highways in the area, assist the local agencies as needed, and work to educate the public on various state laws. With the direction Troop I is headed, the Acadiana area can rest assured that the next 75 years, and beyond, will be just as good if not better than the last 75 years.