Operations

Dallas Operation Serves Fallen Officers’ Families

Martin Romjue
Posted on September 7, 2016

Image from Premier Transportaton, Dallas
Image from Premier Transportaton, Dallas
DALLAS — Twenty-three-year-old Katy Golden and her fiancée live less than a mile from the center of downtown Dallas. On the night of July 7, the sales and marketing coordinator for Premier Transportation never slept, as the flashing blue and red emergency vehicle lights lit up downtown after a sniper killed five Dallas law enforcement officers working security at a public protest.

Like many horrified Dallas residents that night, she exchanged texts with loved ones and friends, letting them know she was O.K., while watching non-stop TV coverage. When Katy went to work the next day, she realized her company could do more than grieve and sympathize.

Image from Premier Transportation, Dallas
Image from Premier Transportation, Dallas
“After a tragedy like that, there is a quiet where everyone doesn’t know what to do or say,” she told LCT. “No one knows how to make it better. I went to (owner Eric Devlin) and just asked him if it would be O.K. if we did whatever we could for the families of these officers who lost their lives. Without hesitating, he said, ‘Yes.’”

Golden’s colleague, Lori Clark, the global director of sales who had just joined the company two months before, messaged a friend on social media who is an officer at the Dallas Police Department, and whose husband serves as one, too. “I said, ‘My company would like to help with the funerals.’ By Sunday, we got our first phone call. The next nine days of my life became a blur.”

Premier Transportation went into a non-stop, 24/7 fleet overdrive like nothing it had experienced before, not even the icy snowbound Super Bowl of 2011. The company donated hundreds of hours of trips using most of its 100+ fleet vehicles and 100+ employees for the funerals, family needs, and airport transfers related to all five of the fallen officers. They took relatives, friends, and visitors to and from airports, hotels, viewings and visitations, and numerous local destinations. Premier chauffeurs drove vehicles as part of official police escorts and convoys that traversed a metro area gridlocked by sorrow.

Among the many Premier Transportation employees involved: Lori Clark, Katy Golden, Todd Davis, and owner/CEO Eric Devlin. (Photos from Premier Transportation)
Among the many Premier Transportation employees involved: Lori Clark, Katy Golden, Todd Davis, and owner/CEO Eric Devlin. (Photos from Premier Transportation)
“The morning after it happened, it was a no brainer to reach out to the DPD as a corporate citizen and show our respects to the city to get through this horrible event,” said Todd Davis, fleet manager. “We threw costs out the window. No matter what they needed, we would have the best vehicles and people available for these families. With multiple funerals and visitations, we made sure we had the right vehicles and the right people for those families.”

The Premier staff maintained its professional demeanor as an entire metro area came together to console one another while the news spread: Former Army veteran Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, outraged about police shootings, ambushed and fired upon a group of police officers, killing five and injuring nine others, and wounding two civilians. Johnson was killed when a police robot detonated a bomb near him following a standoff over several hours.

“It is the responsibility, corporately, to assist in times of tragedy," Devlin said. "However, when individuals lead the charge in giving back to the community, mourning with the families, hurting for the police officers, and going above and beyond….that is when I am most proud. It is very easy to write a check to help support such worthy causes and needs, but getting in the trenches and becoming involved is the way you show those affected you care. I have the best staff in the country!"

Scenes from around the Dallas region from Premier Transportation staff who worked the funeral processions for fallen police officers. (Photo from Premier Transportation)
Scenes from around the Dallas region from Premier Transportation staff who worked the funeral processions for fallen police officers. (Photo from Premier Transportation)
What heartened the Premier staff was the fact so many of its chauffeurs volunteered to work for free during the extended service period. The company, however, insisted on paying them for all hours worked.

“People here made me so proud to be an American,” Clark recalled. “Everyone did their jobs, and really stepped up to help our family; the community becomes a family after something like this happens.”

The fleet logistics, which Clark at times described as crazy, are too numerous to recount. Premier deployed its four motorcoaches, five stretch limousines, Sprinter vans, mini-buses, sedans, SUVs, and even drew upon local affiliates Concierge Limousine and AJL Transportation when it ran out of vehicles.

Davis recalled some of the memorable highlights:

He woke up at 2:30 a.m. on one day to spot the company’s four motorcoaches as they transported 200 police officers from the Dallas Police Department headquarters to Love Field so they could catch flights for the funeral of Officer Michael Krol held in Redford Township, Mich. Southwest Airlines donated tickets for the officers, who returned to Dallas later that afternoon. American Airlines also donated flight transportation to relatives and officers flying in and out of Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport.

Funeral of a slain Dallas police officer (Photo from Premier Transportation)
Funeral of a slain Dallas police officer (Photo from Premier Transportation)
While participating in a convoy to and from DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), police officer Brent Thompson’s funeral in Corsicana, about 55 miles south of Dallas, Davis observed how police vehicles from towns and cities along the way would seamlessly flow in and peel off from the procession as it moved across each borderline.

“It was an experience to see something of this skill and magnitude, and how everyone came together for the same purpose, Davis said.

Most inspiring was how the tragedy touched people from all walks of life across the city, regardless of creed, color or background, Davis said. “That incident really crippled this city. In my 45 years of living, I’ve never seen Dallas as a whole come together like this. A lot of people had taken the police for granted for putting their lives on the line. The outpouring of love and support is obvious and visible. There’s a story on the news every day where people are doing something for police officers. Community relations have gotten much better.”

SIDEBAR: A Witness Along The Trail Of Grief
“I’ll tell you I wish I could’ve filmed everything. It was the most phenomenal thing I have ever witnessed. Today I was at a large church in North Dallas, and there were thousands of people — almost all of them representing Sheriff’s departments, Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, police departments, state troopers, the FBI, etc. from all around North America. To witness this brotherhood in action has truly been an awesome thing to see. Oh, the places where I couldn’t video, all along the streets this morning! The closure of the streets and all intersections blocked. The LBJ Freeway was completely closed. People lined up, off and on, all along the route. And after the service at the church this afternoon, people were lined up on overpasses and along the streets to the cemetery. It was absolutely amazing to see. . . the relatives, while absolutely heartbroken, have truly appreciated the outpouring of love and support.” — From a Premier chauffeur, who asked to remain anonymous

Related Topics: Dallas operators, Eric Devlin, funeral business, industry charity, law enforcement, Premier Transportation, Texas operators

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 3 )
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  • william ahrens

     | about 3 years ago

    My son was one of the officers gunned down. It is an event I will never get over. However, the outpouring of support from various agencies and individuals eases my grief to some extent.While traveling from the church to the burial sight,we saw thousands of Texans with their hands on their hearts or saluting lining miles of highway along the way.One sight I will never forget is a woman on her knees with her hand on her heart.It is etched into my memory like a brand on a bull. I am eternally grateful to Texans for their support and shared grief..

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