Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussard has patrolled the streets of his beloved hometown for the last 35 years, and looking back on his career now, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“As long as the Good Lord gives me strength to get up and come do this job, I am going to do it,” Broussard said.
Broussard was recognized by Cleveland Mayor Richard Boyett and the City Council on Tuesday, May 17, for his service to the city, and Broussard received a rarity at council meetings – a standing ovation from the council, city employees and members of the community.
Soft-spoken and humble, Broussard smiled broadly as he thanked everyone. Then he went back to work.
Regarding his chosen career, Broussard told Bluebonnet News, “God has blessed me with big shoulders to love people. If I can help them in a time of crisis or a tough situation, it makes my day.”
Broussard said he learned early on in life from his parents to do the right thing even when it is tough. His late parents, Charles H. Broussard, Sr., and Gloria Broussard, were both educators for Cleveland ISD, and were great role models for their three sons and other children in the community.
“Dad was an assistant principal, coach and counselor for many years. He was serving at Cleveland Middle School at the time of his passing. My mom was a teacher for Northside, the high school and other campuses. She was over the alternative education program, which is known as in-school suspension these days,” Broussard said.
The middle-born of three sons in the family, Broussard pursued a career path that was different than his brothers – Charles “Spanky” Broussard Jr. and Roderick Broussard, who followed their parents into education, working as teachers and coaches.
“Our parents always placed us around good people, which I think helped us growing up,” Broussard said.
Among the people he admired in the Cleveland community was Ike Hines, the former police chief for Cleveland, who was a sergeant for the department when Broussard was a young man.
“My ambition growing up was to go to work with my grandpa at Dupont building meters. Three years into college at Lamar University, I changed my major from education to industrial electronics. Not long after that, I got married and started focusing on my family,” he said. “I also got more involved in the law enforcement side when I moved back to Cleveland.”
While working for former Pct. 3 Commissioner Melvin Hunt on a road and bridge crew, Broussard’s interest in law enforcement was sparked after a visit with the late Liberty County Sheriff Sonny Applebe.
“Melvin took me over to the jail for some routine business. I got a chance to walk around and meet officers, who were pretty impressive to me. I knew I didn’t want to work on the road crew for the rest of my life, so I started looking into a law enforcement career,” he said.
In the mid-1980s, he joined the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office as a jailer. Soon thereafter, he was sponsored by Sheriff Applebe to attend the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department Academy. After completing the course, he was promoted from jailer to deputy.
In 1987, he joined Cleveland Police Department as a rookie police officer under the late Chief Harley Lovings. In September of 2012, Broussard was promoted from captain to police chief, and has held the position since.
In his storied career in law enforcement, Broussard has performed heroic acts that went unseen and unnoticed by most people, like the time he saved an ex-school teacher who was threatening suicide at Cleveland Municipal Airport.
“Everyone had the guy distracted, so I crawled up behind him and took his rifle,” Broussard said.
On another occasion, he talked a man in the midst of a mental health crisis into dropping a large knife he was using to threaten people.
“He knew me and I was able to talk him out of holding the knife,” the Chief said.
While the situation could have easily turned deadly for Broussard or the man, the crisis was averted.
In more recent years, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, Broussard said it has gotten harder for all peace officers. The anti-police climate that exists today in some parts of the country makes it challenging to recruit people to careers in law enforcement.
“People seem to be a little more stressed out and a little more resentful of law enforcement. They don’t seem to respect law enforcement as much as they did in the past. They question everything. They record you and constantly threaten you. It’s a difficult time for police officers,” he said.
Even so, Broussard has no regrets about his chosen career.
“I would still choose to be a peace officer if I had to do it all over again. It’s never boring and every call is different, and we get to help people in their worst moments of life,” he said. “And, if I can keep working to make things better here in Cleveland, then that is what I am going to do.”