Lee J. Taylor, a Rotarian recently returned home to Winn Parish from New Orleans where he provided contract policing for the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans as well as other institutions and businesses for several months in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, was the speaker for the Winnfield Rotary Club
meeting on February 16, 2022.
Mr. Taylor was introduced by Winnfield Rotary President, Jodi Taylor. Lee J is a 1994 graduate of Winnfield Senior High School. After graduation, he attended the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and then went to work for the Monroe Police Department. He served as a patrol officer, mounted patrol officer and on
the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team. Taylor currently operates a private security company, Fidelis Protective Services, providing off duty police officers for various emergency security operations across the country.
Taylor explained that he first became aware of the need for emergency security services in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and he went to assist local police with all kinds of services needed in post-hurricane and flood situations. This experience changed his outlook on the need for supplemental
policing and security services during natural disaster emergencies. Since that time, he has responded in various emergency situations around the state.
In 2017, Mr. Taylor started his security contracting business, Fidelis, which provides security and law enforcement services in emergency situations. When a state of emergency has been declared in a particular area, regularly-employed police officers can be temporarily deployed to the area of emergency and have the same authority throughout the state, including the power of arrest. An officer who can take vacation may deploy to a disaster area for one week and make as much in that week as in one month at the regular job.
Taylor also provides security for the Weather Channel personnel reporting live in natural disaster areas.
When Hurricane Laura hit the Lake Charles area in 2019, Taylor was in Lake Charles by the evening of the first day, providing security for the building where the vault securing all money from Lake Charles casinos is located. He and other officers remained in that location for three weeks, and then provided security as
all the money, both coins and cash, was moved to another location.
In the most recent hurricane to hit Louisiana, Hurricane Ida, Taylor was with the Weather Channel personnel on Canal Street in New Orleans during the storm. In the aftermath of the storm, security services were needed by Children’s Hospital as well as at other locations throughout New Orleans. No electricity was available in New Orleans for the first nine days after the storm. All in all, his business provided 68 temporary officers throughout the New Orleans area after Hurricane Ida. They were from diverse places such as Winnfield, Alexandria, Shreveport, Dallas and Memphis. So much security was needed that Lee J needed someone else there to be on the telephone and computer coordinating personnel and records, and his wife Jodi spent the next several months in New Orleans as well. In the height of the emergency, Fidelis officers were stationed at about 40 different locations throughout the New Orleans area. As time went on and the situation became more normal throughout the city, the number of officers required gradually decreased over several months, but Taylor and his wife were not able to return home to Calvin until the end of January of this year.
The hospital has its own team of police officers, and Lee J’s team supplemented their police force on its campuses. The public probably cannot imagine all the occurrences on the hospital grounds that call for security policing.
One such example was when he received a call from the head of hospital security to respond to a call alleging that people were smoking pot on campus. He discovered the offenders were two hospital employees, and he was able, fortunately for the employees, to handle the matter without arresting the
The Children’s Hospital provided housing for all 68 of his personnel in New Orleans in the old Behavioral Health section of the hospital, which has not been occupied by any patients for some time. He admitted the place was “spooky,” and reputed to be haunted, although he didn’t detect any issues until the number of persons staying there dwindled down to just a few. It was only then that he personally experienced events causing him to think there might be something to the rumors.
Taylor foresees an increasing need for this type of domestic security police contracting in the future. For example, New Orleans Police Department usually runs with about 1800 officers at a time, and currently has only 1200. Thus, supplemental security is needed for the Mardi Gras season. With the number of
officers down in many police departments, this will be the case for special events in many different places.
The advantages of commissioned police officers providing contract security over security guards are the higher level of training and experience, and the authority of the police. A police officer on temporary security duty has the authority to make an arrest, whereas the security guard must call the police for
such a situation.
Taylor’s services were also summoned in the aftermath of the recent tornadoes in Kentucky to provide off-duty officers to assist in that emergency situation.
After Lee J answered all audience questions, the meeting was adjourned with the Rotary motto, “Service above self!”