Officials unveil marker designating memorial highway to Hancock Lt. Deputy Michael Boutte
Published 10:41 am Thursday, April 21, 2022
By Geoff Belcher
General Manager, Sea Coast Echo
State and local officials gathered Wednesday at the Hancock County Supervisors meeting hall in Bay St. Louis to unveil a Mississippi highway marker honoring the late Lt. Deputy Michael Anthony Boutte, Sr.
During the 2021 Legislative Session, House Bill 424 — introduced by state Rep. Brent Anderson — was signed into law. It designated part of Hwy. 603 as the “Lieutenant Deputy Michael Anthony Boutte, Sr., Memorial Highway.’”
Boutte was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 1, 2021, after responding to a call in the Necaise Community.
Officers of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety served as the Honor Guard for Wednesday’s ceremony; Cmdr. Benjamin Taylor of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office gave both the invocation and benediction; Hancock Chief Deputy Jeremy Skinner led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The program for Wednesday’s event described Boutte as a “selfless, compassionate, caring individual who devoted his life to the service of others. Throughout his law enforcement career, Michael was dedicated to justice and equity. Remembered for the smile he always had, Michael set out every day to make someone else’s day a little better and to make the world a better place.”
Tom King, chairman of the Mississippi Transportation Commission, served as master of ceremonies for the event.
King said it was “an honor just to serve the people,” and thanked law enforcement officers “for all that you do.”
Although King did not personally know Boutte, he said, the late lawman’s co-workers, friends and family had shared with him that Boutte was “a brave officer, a fearless leader, a mentor, and a police officer who loved his job,” and was “dedicated to the community.”
King said Boutte’s legacy of service began even before he became a lawman — he went straight to the U.S. Air Force after graduating from John McDonough High School in New Orleans in 1981.
“Out of basic training, Michael was first assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana,” according to the ceremony program, “a base that his son, Michael Jr., would later be assigned as his first duty station. During his service, he was deployed during Operation Desert Storm. After his service in the USAF, Michael attended the South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Center in 1992 and started his law enforcement career in Grand Rapids, South Dakota.
“In 1996, he attended the Washington State Criminal Justice Center and became a founding member of the City of Federal Way Department of Public Safety in Federal Way, Washington.
“Michael relocated to Mississippi in 2012 and went to work at the Picayune Police Department. In 2016, Michael joined the ranks of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, where he achieved the rank of lieutenant.”
King said the highway marker “will serve as a reminder to those lucky enough to have known him that his sacrifice and legacy will not be forgotten.”
King said it would also serve to educate those who didn’t know Boutte personally about his “sacrifice and dedication.”
Anderson, who represents Mississippi House District 122, thanked Sheriff Ricky Adam and Boutte’s family for allowing him to write the legislation that led to the highway dedication.
“Having spent 15 years in law enforcement,” as a Waveland police officer, Anderson said, he understood the hard work and dedication that goes into doing the job properly.
“A lot of officers try to command respect,” he said, but Boutte “didn’t have to go out there and fight for respect. People naturally gave it to him.”
Anderson told Boutte’s family that “our prayers will always be with you.”
King and Boutte’s widow Jennifer unveiled the marker.
The segment of Mississippi Highway 603 dedicated to Boutte is located in Hancock County, beginning at its intersection with Mississippi Highway 43 and extending northerly to its intersection with Rocky-Hill Dedeaux Road.
Boutte and the late Cayce Seal — an Entergy lineman — will also be honored this Saturday, April 23, beginning at 10 a.m. during the Mississippi Heroes Festival at Commagere Park in Bay St. Louis.