City’s domestic violence program named in honor of Prentiss

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday honored former Vicksburg Police Lt. Beverly Prentiss, naming the city’s Domestic Violence Empowerment Program in her memory.

Prentiss, who died Feb. 12, retired from the Vicksburg Police Department in 2016 after 35 years of service, including serving as the department’s first domestic violence investigator; a position she originated. She returned to the department in November 2018 as a part-time officer and court bailiff.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr., who recommended naming the program in Prentiss’ memory, said he did it because of her service as a police offer.

“She was passionate about it (law enforcement),” he said, “She’d done 37 years with the Vicksburg Police Department. That’s the least we could do for her. She died while working for the city.”

Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore said the board’s decision was greatly appreciated by the department.

“I know her family will appreciate it, too. It will be a great way to honor her,” he said. “She was a champion for women.”

Prentiss was hired as a dispatcher in 1981 and worked her way through the ranks before retiring as a lieutenant.

In a 2016 story in The Vicksburg Post on her retirement, Prentiss said she became a police officer because “I always enjoyed helping people. I wanted to do the job because I felt I could do well in it, and provide a service to the community, and it was exciting to me. There was never a routine day at the office.”

She was assigned as the domestic violence investigator by then-Police Chief Walter Armstrong.

“I saw a need (for a domestic violence officer),” she said. “I went to Chief Armstrong and asked him if we could start a domestic violence unit for this department, and he agreed.”

As the department’s domestic violence investigator, Prentiss handled most of the protective orders for victims and reviewed cases and made follow-up calls to the victim to see if there were any services they may need.

She also worked closely with Haven House family shelter, and with men who were victims of domestic violence and abuse.

“I loved my job because I could give the victim or the abuser the time they needed to tell me all they had to tell me, whereas being on patrol, you just got the basics and stopped,” she said.

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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