Jeremy Laurich, a sergeant at the Tustin PD, recalls his final week of training when he was a rookie in 2004.
Laurich’s so-called “parent” Field Training Officer (FTO) was Sgt. Mike Lamoureux, who supervised Laurich for the first four weeks and the last four weeks of the training program.
Lamoureux had made a bet with the shift lieutenant that Laurich – “the kid,” as he was called — would make an “obs felony” arrest by the end of training.
That meant that Laurich would observe a felony crime and then make an arrest on his own, without Lamoureux’s help and without a dispatcher sending him to a call initiated by a member of the public.
Time was running out as the two patrolled the southwest beat off of McFadden Avenue and the 55 Freeway.
It was the last day of training, it was the middle of the night, it was 40 degrees outside, and there wasn’t a car on the road.
Laurich had lost all hope of Lamoureux winning the bet when he spotted the only car on the road in a high-crime area. He pulled the driver over for several vehicle equipment violations.
After conducting an investigation, Laurich arrested the driver for possession of a deadly weapon – and, bingo, Lamoureux won the bet.
“He had showed he had the faith in me as a new officer and future peer to go out and do the job he expected me to do,” Laurich says of Lamoureux, who is retiring this month after a storied 25-year career with the TPD.
“Mike was the kind of FTO who would give you a long leash and let you run off until you choked yourself,” Laurich adds. “Then he’d reign you back in. That was how you learned back then. You were given opportunities to succeed until you failed. Your failure created a learning opportunity.
“Mike’s wide array of knowledge, his motivational attitude, and his courage to do what was right, no matter what, will be missed.”
Lamoureux’s last day of work was Thursday, Dec. 19. His official retirement day was Dec. 30.
“It’s bittersweet,” Lamoureux said on a recent weekday in the TPD’s Watch Commander office, his home for the last 13 years.
The WC office recently was equipped with large monitors that monitor the TPD and City Hall complex. The city put up 90 cameras in an effort to harden security around the facilities.
On another monitor, Lamoureux kept track of patrol officers in the field (the shift’s second watch commander was on patrol). There were three pending calls and five active calls (welfare check, suspicious person, etc. – nothing major).
The job of WC is a far cry from Lamoureux’s first law enforcement job.
In 1987, seven years after graduating from high school, Lamoureux became a federal agent with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
As a Border Patrol agent, Lamoureux was assigned to the Brown Field Patrol Station, located about midway between the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Ports of Entry in San Diego.
Back then, the Brown Field Patrol Station’s area of 11.6 miles of the international border with Mexico was nothing more than waist-high cable attached to cement posts.
“It’s one of those jobs that’s not for old guys, that’s for sure,” Lamoureux says of the Border Patrol. “You’re always fighting or running – it’s very, very, active, and very physically demanding.
“I liked it.”
Lamoureux always had law enforcement in mind as a possible career while growing up. He was 3 when his parents, separated at the time, relocated from Rhode Island to the Yucaipa area.
He played football and wrestled at Aquinas High School, a private Catholic school in San Bernardino. After high school, Lamoureux worked in construction for four years before applying for the Border Patrol.
“I wanted to get out of the area,” Lamoureux says.
He spent seven months in the Border Patrol academy at a federal training center in Georgia. In addition to learning what recruits do at most police academies, Lamoureux studied constitutional law, immigration law, and, of course, Spanish.
His fluency in Spanish later would serve him well at the TPD.
WORKED WITH FATHER
After spending six years as a Border Patrol agent, and before he joined the TPD in 2004, Lamoureux worked for a couple of years with his father, Chuck, who owned an environmental consulting business in Garden Grove.
“I would go around to all these businesses,” Lamoureux says, “smaller ones like plating businesses where the county or the state was coming down on them because they were polluting. I would do assessments and reports, and make recommendations on wastewater treatment systems – things like that.
“It was a big change from being a Border Patrol agent.”
The tug of law enforcement would return.
Lamoureux was driving by Golden West College when he saw a sign about a police academy about to start. He enrolled on the spot and put himself through the academy.
Lamoureux was in background with the El Cajon PD when an officer there, knowing Lamoureux was living in Huntington Beach, recommended he apply to the Tustin PD.
“I had to pull out my Thomas Brothers (map guide) to find out where Tustin was,” Lamoureux says. “I had heard of it, but had never been there.”
The TPD hired Lamoureux in October 1995.
The following year, Lamoureux became a member of the TPD’s first gang unit.
Back in 1996, Tustin had a serious gang problem, led by the Deuce Trey Crips, Los Wickeds, and the Watergate Crips.
Lamoureux, fluent in Spanish, was particularly adept at working the Hispanic gangs.
“I have had my most memorable moments of my career working with Mike,” says Lt. Manny Arzate, who worked as a detective under Lamoureux when he returned to the gang unit as a sergeant in 2009.
“He let us work investigations to the bitter end,” Arzate recalls. “He gave us autonomy to develop our technical skills and knew when to pull in the reins. We achieved great success working as a unit under Mike, such as the arrest of Cambodian gang members for a murder they committed on Myrtle Street to seizing several thousands of dollars of jewelry from robberies committed by northern San Diego gang members.”
Under Lamoureux’ supervision, the Tustin PD Gang Unit was selected as the Orange County Gang Investigator’s Association 2010 Gang Unit of the Year.
“Mike was always by our side, and I am truly grateful for the time we spent together,” Arzate says. “He will be missed.”
Lamoureux says the TPD currently has a lot of young officers and thus is facing some growing pains, but agency veterans are up for the challenge.
“Pound for pound,” he says, “we could take on any other police agency when it comes to a major case or a major event.”
Lamoureux, 57, wears a St. Michael’s necklace, a nod to his Catholic faith and a gift from his mother when he graduated from the Border Patrol academy.
He and his wife of 20 years, Mary, an administrator for an outpatient surgery center, live in the Inland Empire and attend church weekly.
They have two daughters, Jillian, 19, a sophomore at Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University in Prescott, Ariz., who is studying to become an aerospace enginee; and Brigid, 18, a junior at Crafton Hills College, a community college in Yucaipa.
Instead of a police officer, Lamoureux almost became a pilot – a passion since childhood.
He earned his first private pilot’s license in 1989 and since then has become instrument rated. He also has a license to fly helicopters and hot-air balloons.
Lamoureux has flown a total of some 3,400 hours.
“For me, flying is cool,” he says. “It’s peaceful. It’s like I belong up there. It’s kind of like me driving around in a police car. I belong there.
“It’s liberating. I’m in my element.”
For years, Lamoureux also raced sailboats.
He also loves to backpack and hits the Pacific Crest Trail each year for an eight- to nine-day adventure.
Lamoureux says he’s ready to retire.
“I’m really happy with everything I’ve been afforded to do in my career,” he says.
Adds Laurich, his former trainee: “I can’t thank Mike enough for helping mold me into the officer and sergeant I am today. I’ll always look up to him.”