By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Circuit Court Judge Thomas Gardner administered the oath of office to north Mississippi’s 16 newest law enforcement officers at the Link Centre in Tupelo on Thursday evening.
The officers graduated from the reserve academy at the North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center and will serve their communities as part-time and reserve officers.
To be certified as reserve and part-time officers, they had to complete 200 hours of instruction.
“They probably get 95 percent of the same academic classes as the full-time cadets,” said Gary Garrett, instructor at the training center. “The (physical training) standards they are held to are the same but they prepare on their own for it.”
Tupelo ophthalmologist Dr. Matthew B. Wesson completed the training to be a reserve deputy for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
He became interested in law enforcement when meeting officers through involvement in shooting sports.
“I got to know a little more about it and the good work they do,” he said. “And then I rode one night with two deputies in Lee County and that’s what really did it. It was quite interesting and exciting and I learned a lot. I got hooked.”
Wesson said he wants to use his medical knowledge to benefit the sheriff’s office in whatever way he can.
Randi Burch went through the training to be a part-time officer for the Sherman Police Department. She has worked as a dispatcher and always wanted to work on the other side of the radio.
“I walked away with a lot more knowledge of the law and I’ve worked with law enforcement as a dispatcher for 12 years,” she said.
Tupelo Reserve Division Commander Eric Gibens said being a reserve officer is a great way to serve the community.
“Any one of these officers could have chosen another organization to devote their time and give back to the community,” he said. “In the reserve division in Tupelo, they have invested more than 6,000 hours in volunteer time. They have also provided more than 3,000 hours in patrolling the city of Tupelo, and that was just last year alone.”
Tyler O. Allen, Booneville Police
Donald E. Austin, Tippah Sheriff
Randi A. Burch, Sherman Police
David A. Crum, Walnut Police
Orlando M. Gates, Fulton Police
Kenneth J. Gentry, Verona Policie
Tyler D. Gordon, Itawamba Sheriff
Terry D. Jackson, Tishomingo Sheriff
Charles A. Lindsey, Itawamba Sheriff
Jason J. McCaffery, Tupelo Police
Bobby D. Mills, Itawamba Sheriff
David A. Palladino, Tupelo Police
Jimmy P. Pipkins, Monroe Sheriff
James L. Scott, Clay Sheriff
Matthew B. Wesson, Lee Sheriff
Jason R. Woodard, Fulton Police