PD pay it forward trips

Published 11:35 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Picayune’s Police Department recently completed two trips that focused on thanking outside law enforcement agencies for their assistance following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Chief Jim Luke said the most recent trip took place at the beginning of this hurricane season, June 1, which he saw as ironic since the department he was going to thank departments that lent a hand after Hurricane Katrina .

During that trip they thanked Sheriff John Rutherford, Lt. Michelle Cook and Lt. Don Tuten with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department. Luke presented a proclamation and plaque to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department during a luncheon and thanked them for their time and efforts in assisting the Picayune Police Department after the storm.

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During an earlier trip on May 7, the department presented proclamations and plaques to the Madison (Miss.) Police Department and the Brentwood and Franklinton Police Departments and the Willamson County Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee, according to a release from the Picayune Police Department. In Virginia, the Picayune Police Department presented proclamations and plagues to the Alexandria and Prince William County Police Departments and the Virginia State Police. All of those departments also sent personnel to assist Picayune after Hurricane Katrina.

Each proclamation presented to those law enforcement agencies not only thanked them for their assistance but also pledged Picayune Police Department’s assistance should they ever need it during a natural disaster, Luke said.

While in Virginia, Luke and Lt. Chad Dorn and officer James Bolton attended the 14th annual wreath laying and memorial ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. More than 3,000 officers rode in the event, 500 of which were law enforcement personnel in uniform, Dorn said. Dorn said he was fortunate enough to lead the ride, making it an awesome experience. The candle light vigil that followed was a humbling experience, Dorn said.

At the memorial, Luke found one of Picayune’s fallen officer’s names engraved in stone. The release states that Luke made a pencil copy of the engraving and presented that piece of paper to the fallen officer’s family. That officer was E.L. McGehee, who was killed during a shoot out in Picayune, the release states.

While in D.C. Luke and his officers met with the state’s senators to seek funding to install computers and drug fighting equipment in patrol cars, according to the release.

Efforts are underway to put a local police officer memorial in front of the Criminal Justice Center on Main Street. A 32 year-old tree had to be removed because it was causing damage to the building, the release states. The memorial will be built where the tree once stood.

Three cases have also been constructed by friends of the department, two were built by Gerald Abraham and one was built by Picayune Vo-Tech Woodshop Director Winston Herndon. Those cases are being used to display items that pay homage to former and present officers of the department.

Luke formed a Police Memorial Committee consisting of Deputy Chief David Ervin, Lt. Chad Dorn, Patrol Commander Land Pittman, Community Police Coordinator Ginger Bennett and Executive Assistant Kris Landrum to keep the effort alive, the release states. A recent city council decision authorized the department to maintain a memorial fund indefinitely at no cost to the city to send officers on future memorial trips and to maintain the local police memorial.

The memorial fund received a donation of $1,000 from NorfolkSouthern on Wednesday, which was presented by Supervisory Special Agent Ron Bible.