PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Law enforcement officers and their families throughout South Mississippi honored for a job well done.
The 2017 Law Enforcement Appreciation and Family Day in Pascagoula was a particularly well received thank you following the recent shooting of a Harrison County deputy.
In the world of law enforcement, worry is never far away. And a shooting like that of a deputy in Harrison County last week can make it even worse.
Jackson County Sheriff's deputy John Ledbetter was happy that his family could be with him.
"It's very special that they've allowed family to participate in this event," Ledbetter said. "It gives us a chance to show how much this group of sponsors really appreciates their law enforcement and their families."
Organizer Scott McLeod understands the need.
"They are just as scared for their family as they are for themselves to leave in the morning," McLeod said.
McLeod, along with friend Richie Jones, began the appreciation event in 2016 after they were compelled to spontaneously thank two deputies they saw at a restaurant.
"Richie and I went over and talked to them and one of them broke down and said, 'Thank you, we really appreciate that.'"
The event had a special public presentation of bagpipes and a memorial for those officers who have given their lives to protect.
"Last couple of years, we've had some big tragedies in law enforcement around the country," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell. "Folks just wanted to show their appreciation and this is one way of doing it, and it has been wonderful."
For Jackson County deputy Matthew Hoggat, getting to know the community is the best thing about the event.
"It's become a situation where now, we're not up here hanging out with strangers any more. It's like we're a family reunion of sorts, and that is beautiful," said Hoggat.
The guest speaker was Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who warned about Mississippi's new law that doubles the punishment for anyone who intentionally harms law enforcement.