R’land officer named First Responder of the Year
The Ridgeland Police Department’s Sgt. Sara Perkins, the department's first female officer of that rank, has been recognized as the First Responder of the Year by the First Responders of Mississippi.
Perkins has been employed with the Ridgeland PD for eight and a half years and currently serves in the patrol division as a patrol supervisor and received the award recommendation from a member of her shift. She said that it is an honor to be nominated by the people she works with every day.
“Everyone on my shift is just exactly what every supervisor wants,” Perkins said. “I wish they could have been recognized with me. They were there for every bit of it and I would not be here without them.”
Ridgeland Police Chief John Neal said Perkins serves “as a role model for new officers in her profession.” He said she is often heard on the radio responding to calls for beat officers who may have a large call log for the day to provide relief, allowing them to catch up on their assignments and regularly spends time mentoring and guiding new officers and support staff.
“These are just a few examples of the leadership qualities Sergeant Perkins possesses. Her contributions to the Ridgeland Police Department, the City of Ridgeland and its residents cannot be measured, but the effects of her involvement in the City's safety and the department are certainly felt and noticed,”
Neal said that the First responders of Mississippi recognized a police officer, an EMS first responder, a firefighter and an overall first responder. He said that Perkins's resume included life-saving procedures qualifying her for the overall recognition.
“The Board and I couldn’t be prouder of Sara. She is a tremendous asset to the City and an invaluable leader to the police force. The standing ovation she received after the presentation was well-deserved,” said Gene McGee, Mayor of Ridgeland.
Neal said they decided to nominate Perkins after a stellar November 2021. Specifically, she responded to a gunshot wound victim on I-55 administering aid when she arrived on the scene that likely saved his life, early in the month. Approximately three weeks later she was key in the investigation of the shooting death of 15-year old Marcus Hemingway, an Old Town Middle School student. Neal said her efforts helped secure the arrest of Trenton Leahey-Lofton, 16, within four hours of first responders of the homicide.
Perkins also assisted in several vehicle accidents including one where her small size helped her reach a victim and render aid.
“When I got hired at Ridgeland everyone else had told me I was too small but (then) Chief (Jimmy) Houston gave me a chance,” Perkins said.
Recently, Sergeant Perkins studied, prepared, and performed at the highest level during a promotional process, resulting in her being promoted as the first female Sergeant in the history of the Ridgeland Police Department.
“I love everything about working here,” Perkins said. “Our leadership encourages community involvement and we are tough on crime but show compassion when we have the opportunity.”