Mississippi Coast Crimestoppers honors officers

BILOXI, MS (AP) - Hundreds of law enforcement officers from the Mississippi Gulf Coast gathered in Biloxi Friday morning.

Mississippi Coast Crimestoppers hosted an appreciation breakfast for all the men and women who "protect and serve." The crowd included police officers, deputies, highway patrolmen and federal agents.

Crimestoppers recognized its Officers of the Year at the event. It was an opportunity to say "thank you" to those who are dedicated to keeping our communities safe.

"What you guys do is a thankless job," said host Kipp Gregory.

This event lets law enforcers know they are appreciated.

The lieutenant governor, who began his career as a sheriff's deputy, told the crowd he's never forgotten his roots in law enforcement.

"We want to have the southeastern average for school teachers. How about the southeastern average for law enforcement salaries? How about that?" said Lt. Governor Phil Bryant.

The crowd recognized the nominees for Officer of the Year and heard highlights of their individual accomplishments.

Harrison County's officer of the year, David Bell, was credited with saving the life of a stabbing victim.

"I just applied direct pressure to her wounds. I'm a former paramedic, so I knew exactly what needed to be done. So I just assisted AMR with her treatment and fortunately she survived the incident," said Bell.

Matt Hoggatt was named Jackson County's officer of the year. The Gautier detective says his greatest reward is serving the public.

"The satisfaction it brings the community when they see the police being able to do something for them that helps them. Whether they're a victim or whether it's something that keeps them from becoming a victim, I enjoy the satisfaction that brings," said Hoggatt.

Highway Patrolman Roger Moore from Wiggins received "officer of the year" for state and federal law enforcement.

"It's just the respect factor. To wear the uniform, the blue and gray. Once you go through the academy, you're part of the best the state has to offer. And just going out representing the state, sir," said Moore.

Jackson County investigator Hope Thornton was named coastwide "officer of the year".  Unable to attend, Sheriff Mike Byrd accepted on her behalf.

"Thank you sir. Thank you maam. Thank you everybody who puts on that badge. God bless you all," said Gregory, as the event concluded.

Coastwide officer of the year, Hope Thornton, investigates sex-related crimes for the Jackson County sheriff's department.

Her work last year resulted in the arrests of dozens of child pornography suspects and multiple felony arrests in child abuse cases.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.