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Local law enforcement leaders earn TOP honors

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong, police officer Alexis Hall and Warren County sheriff’s deputy Ray Thompson were among the law enforcement officers from across the state honored May 18 at the 2017 TOP COP event held at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson sponsored by Central Mississippi Crime Stoppers.

Armstrong was the recipient of the Jim Ingram Lifetime Achievement Award, while Hall and Thompson were among the local officers honored during the program.

“I was very honored and humble to receive such an award, in as much it came from somebody I admired, which is commissioner Ingram,” Armstrong said. “I got my first promotion while he was in office. He actually did a handwritten note congratulating me on that promotion. I was glad to share that with his family and other law enforcement officers.

“And then 20 years later, to get an award in his honor, it means so much to me, because of that relationship and my knowledge of him from when he was commissioner of public safety.”

Armstrong has been in law enforcement for 33 years.  He began his career in 1984 as a state trooper with Troop M in Brookhaven, later moving to Troop C in Jackson and then Mississippi Highway Patrol Headquarters.

The Jim Ingram Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to individuals who have exemplified Commissioner Ingram’s character. Armstrong is the award’s seventh recipient.

Ingram contributed a great deal to law enforcement at the federal and state levels.

He was a 30-year veteran of the FBI and the commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety for eight years. He was instrumental in the prosecution of Edgar Ray Killen and James Ford Seale for the deaths of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County.

Hall has been with the Vicksburg Police Department since September 2015. Her mother and uncle, Lt. Penny Jones and Capt. Milton Moore, have served the Vicksburg Police Department since 1999.

Officer Hall was nominated for the award for her action involving two separate incidents in involving medical calls at different homes in Vicksburg.

“In both cases, she arrived before the ambulance,” Armstrong said. “In each case, when she arrived, the subjects were not responsive and she administered CPR and was able to being them back.”

Thompson’s award involved rescuing a blind and deaf dog that was swimming in a pond in the Allen Place Subdivision in October.

Thompson and another deputy responding to a 911 call saw the animal swimming in the pond in circles and close to drowning. When efforts to call the dog and get it to shore failed, Thompson, the sheriff’s department K-9 officer, removed his body armor, gun belt and boots, and went into the water, swam out to the dog and was able to lead it to the bank.

When they got the dog to the bank, the deputies discovered the dog was very old, deaf and blind. When they located the owner, who lived nearby, they learned the dog managed to get out of its enclosure and wandered off. They believe the dog went to the water, but his condition caused him to become disoriented and was near drowning.

“Even though this is not your typical officer of the year nomination that usually involves some big criminal case, I think this is a good example of how local law enforcement serves the public in ways far beyond apprehending criminals,” Sheriff Martin Pace said.

“Sgt. Thompson’s actions that day allowed a very old dog to live out a few more months or years of life and it saved the family the grief of knowing that he would have died in such a tragic manner.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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