GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - First responders in Gautier are being honored for their service to the city and its residents.
In Tuesday night's city council meeting, the 2018 Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year were both acknowledged and presented with awards by city officials.
Det. Melissa McQuagge, a three-year veteran of the police force, was chosen as officer of the year. She moved to Jackson County in 1999 while serving the U.S. Air Force. She was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base at the time, where she worked as a military combat medic/EMT. While serving in the Air Force, McQuagge was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, conducting Joint Base Detainee Operations in Afghanistan. She retired from the Air Force in 2014.
A year later, McQuagge joined Gautier Police Department, where she worked her way up from patrol to a detective in the criminal investigations division. While in these positions, the city said she has developed the ability to recognize criminal behavior, resulting in many arrests, including crimes against children, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, burglary, firearm-related incidents, homicide, and kidnapping. She has also worked narcotic-related cases with agents assigned to the South Mississippi Metropolitan Enforcement Team and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Det. McQuagge is certified as a crisis negotiator, an EMT, and a diver on the department's dive team.
Maurice McClure, a four-year veteran of the Gautier Fire Department, was selected as firefighter of the year. McClure began his career as a firefighter in Gautier in May 2014. Since then, he has received numerous certifications in emergency response and hazard mitigation and currently serves as the department chaplain.