First responders honored last week


Madison County honored first-responders with several events last week in association with National Law Enforcement Appreciation Month.

City and county boards issued proclamations declaring the week of May 9-14 as Madison County Law Enforcement Appreciation Week.

The week is sponsored annually by Canton Tourism, Madison the City Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce, Ridgeland Tourism, and the Madison County Business League & Foundation. 

Churches, schools, organizations/clubs, and individuals participated in the event.

Below is a roundup of some of the event held last week:

Balloon Release

On Wednesday, May 12, the Madison County Business League and Foundation and the Madison County Chamber of Commerce hosted the seventh annual balloon release at the Madison County Sheriff’s office. 

The balloon release was held to honor fallen Madison County law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty.

Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker and Jan Collins with the Madison County Business League and foundation both gave their remarks on the fallen first responders and appreciating law enforcement. 

Jan Collins gave her remarks about the importance of law enforcement in the county. 

“We are very blessed to have law enforcement not only here, but in Ridgeland, Canton, and Flora,” Collins said. “They all work together to keep us safe and make us feel safe in our homes and businesses. Considering the climate we’re in today, it’s more important than ever to let them know just how much we appreciate their efforts and putting their lives on the line for us daily.”

Sheriff Randy Tucker also spoke and thanked the community for the support. 

“It’s bittersweet for us,” Tucker said. “We really appreciate the community we serve and we feel like we serve the best community out there. Each one of these men and women who get up in the morning and put the badge on are putting their lives on the line.”

Everyone attending the event let go of their balloons in honor of the fallen first responders. 

Bugler Staff Sergeant Joseph Handy played taps following the balloon release.

Ridgeland Memorial

The Ridgeland Police Department held a memorial ceremony at the Police Station on Thursday, May 13, at 4 p.m. to honor fallen officers 

The roughly 30 people in attendance heard remarks from Mayor Gene McGee, Police Chief John Neal, past president of the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce Randy King and a closing benediction from Kiley ham of Colonial Heights Baptist Church.

“No one asked these selfless men and women to put their life on the line,” King said in his opening remarks. “Being a police officer is not a job, it is a calling.”

The Ridgeland High School AFJROTC Color Guard presented the American flag and the State of Mississippi flag and Public Works Director and retired Army Reserve Colonel Mike McCollum played “Flowers of the Forest” on bagpipes. Marine Corps League member Billy Henderson played taps before the closing prayer.

Neal read the names of the eight officers in Mississippi who had lost their lives over the past year. Those names are:

• Deputy Sheriff James Blair, Simpson County Sheriffs Office

• Sgt. Kelvin Mixon, Edwards Police Department

• Capt. Glenn Green, Pike County Sheriffs Office

• Deputy Sheriff William Nichols, Desoto County Sheriffs Office.

• Lt. Marzell Brooks, Brookhaven Police Department

• Lt. Michael Bout, Hancock County Sheriffs Office

• Deputy Sheriff Thomas Barnes, Jefferson Davis County Sheriffs Office

Neal said that four officers had lost their lives in the span of 48 hours in Texas and California earlier that week. As of the time of the memorial 124 officers had lost their lives in the line of duty nationwide. 

Neal said that half were medical-related while 38 were due to stabbings or gunshot wounds. Another 14 had lost their lives in traffic-related incidents. He said they had lost a total of six police canines.

Neal went on to say that Texas, Georgia and Florida had seen the most deaths of officers and that Jan. 11, was the deadliest day for law enforcement so far this year.

“Even in a peaceful society evil will always exist and police officers are warriors against evil,” Neal said.

McGee said that he knew that every officer's death hit members of the Ridgeland Police Department particularly hard. He went on to say that the police in Ridgeland were among the best.

“We appreciate and support our officers and their department,” McGee said. “I can say with confidence that we have the best police department anywhere in the nation.”

Madison County Parade of Honor

Hundreds of people turned out to Reunion Parkway on Thursday evening for a Madison County Parade of Honor to show support for the county's first responders.

Volunteers gave out American flags to spectators and collected money to support the county's first responders.

Representatives from every law enforcement and fire department in the county were on hand to parade along the parkway as spectators cheered and waved flags in support.

“First Annual Madison County Parade of Honor was a big hit,” said organizer Julene Taylor Stewart in a social media post after the event. “Thank you, everyone, who attended, participated, and helped me pull this off!”

Natunya Johnson and Moneekia Chambers, members of the Junior Auxiliary of Madison County, stood on the parade route handing out American Flags to spectators.

“We are here to support our first responders,” Chambers said.

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