PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The ceremony that officially transitioned 21 men into police officers for the Singing River Health System was short and sweet. However, the impact will be long lasting.
"We feel that being a campus police department will put us in a position to better provide a secure and safe environment for our campuses," said Chief of Campus Police Randy Sanders.
The officers come from all over Jackson County, and many were retired law enforcement. It seems that the duty of protecting others is hard to let go.
"You can't get it out of your system. Law enforcement is a calling and you do what you do because you love it," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd.
Officials say the growing number of patients and cases the hospital sees made it necessary for the transition from security to a campus police department. There are other advantages as well.
"A campus police department opens the doors for us to allow us to have access to more education opportunities for our officers, more training, more investment for our officers in terms of education and skill set," said Sanders.
According to the new campus chief, the officers have the same training and power of any other police officers in the state. That greatly expands the services they will be able to provide.
"We deal a lot with them when we bring mental patients here. That's one of the big things that we have a big concern about. These guys go above and beyond to help us with that," said Byrd.
Previously, the hospital security officers were deputized by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.