NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - When a police officer loses their life in Louisiana, fellow officers pay tribute, usually at an annual memorial. But, one Jefferson Parish deputy decided to take it a step further, putting a photo of the fallen officers on the side windows of an old patrol unit car.
The vehicle used to belong to Jefferson Parish deputy Joshua Norris, who was shot and killed in 2007 while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
A few years ago, his fellow deputy, Paul Sperandeo, got the 17-year-old vehicle from Norris’ mother, naming it Hero One and putting it back to work – only this time, with a different purpose.
"We actually put a fallen officer’s picture on the side of the car, and he will stay on there until, unfortunately, there's another line of duty death in the state,” Sperandeo said.
He and his dad maintained the vehicle and used it to travel across the state and country to attend officer funerals. Sheriff Joe Lopinto said Sperandeo’s dedication means so much to those suffering during these losses.
"You won't find a better supporter of fallen officers, not just JPSO, but around the country. [Paul] keeps up with officers killed and makes sure he does what he can to honor them,” Lopinto said.
But what started as a tribute to those officers, turned into so much more.
In addition to the car, Sperandeo's Hero One support services now sends Louisiana love to law enforcement children, who are going through a rough time. In the beginning, he would send law enforcement patches.
"I was doing that for years and just decided to take the next step. Let me add hat, stuff, shirts, anything I could find on the internet, I was purchasing for a box and sending it with them,” Sperandeo said. “"I just wanted to alleviate some of that stress and pain. It's like opening a present on Christmas day, so exciting, they don't know what's in there and then they look at it all, that's what we try to give them, for a few minutes."
Children of fallen officers, sick kids of officers and sick children with aspirations of being in law enforcement have been on the receiving end, and are appreciative.
"Never did we expect a response,” Sperandeo said. “We've probably sent 63 to 64 care packages and only gotten responses from 10. We don't expect responses. We just want to show the kids they have a blue family as well."
And Lopinto said he couldn’t be more proud.
"Let's face it. There's a lot more good that happens in this world every day. Unfortunately, in this line of work, we report on a lot of the bad,” Lopinto said. “There's gonna be more baseball games, scholarships given out and birthday parties today than murders but those won't be on the 5 o'clock news today. That's not a bad thing. But we have to understand there is a lot more good out there that we can recognize, and we as law enforcement do recognize."
As September’s FOX 8 Gr8 Neighbor, Sperandeo said he doesn't look for praise, he just hopes the Hero One support services continues to grow.
"I don't really need it,” He said. “I just know in my heart, what we're doing for those kids, and I just want to keep it going as long as I can."
For more information on Hero One, visit their Facebook page.