Crime Stoppers selects Lt. Katarsha White as Officer of the Year

  • In US
  • 2023-02-02 02:15:00Z
  • By Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo

Feb. 1-TUPELO - Lt. Katarsha White of the Tupelo Police Department thought she was just supporting a good cause Wednesday by attending the annual Crime Stoppers of Northeast Mississippi awards luncheon.

So it was a complete surprise when Crime Stoppers board member Bob Baughn called her name as the 2022 Officer of the Year.

"Nobody with my department mentioned anything about this," White said. "We are in law enforcement, and we try to make sure we show our appreciation for the agencies that assist us. I was here to show support and have a great meal."

White started as a patrol officer at Tupelo a quarter century ago and slowly made her way up the ranks. She is currently a SRO but also serves as the reserve officers program coordinator, the Community Oriented Policing coordinator and the executive director for the Police Athletic League.

She also coordinates a number of community outreach programs designed to improve relations and interactions: Coffee with a Cop gives the community a chance to meet and talk with officers in a relaxed atmosphere; Breakfast at the Bus Stop, where officers supply breakfast and meet with kids waiting on the bus; Faith and Blue brings together police and churches to discuss issues; and Lunch with the Chief allows the public to come to the police department for lunch and conversation with Chief John Quaka.

She is also active in the community, volunteering with a wide variety of organizations, including the Stop the Hurt Coalition, the Early Childhood Coalition, S.A.F.E., Habitat for Humanity and the Hillsdale Afterschool program

"People think that to be selected Officer of the Year, the officer has to be involved with enforcement or part of a heroic event," Baughn said. "However, it is strongly felt that Lt. White's coordination of the community-oriented police programs significantly helped in the reduction of major crimes. Her volunteerism is exceptional."

Fallen officer honored

Crime Stoppers also presented the Law Enforcement Cross Award to the family of the late Johnny Patterson, a Shannon School Resource Officer who was killed in the line of duty in January 2022.

The Law Enforcement Cross Award is presented to officers within the Crime Stoppers 10-county coverage area who are killed in the line of duty.

"This award is the highest honor that we can give to an officer who makes the ultimate sacrifice while protecting and serving the public," Baughn said.

Patterson, who was also the Verona assistant police chief, was directing afternoon traffic in front of Shannon Primary School on Jan. 13, 2022. He was standing on Highway 45 when a car traveling at a high speed plowed into his car, knocking it into him. He was carried to the hospital in critical condition and died about a week later.

The award was accepted by Patterson's sister-in-law, Katherine Terry, who said being a police officer was the life calling of Patterson, who loved his community and the children at the schools he served.

"He thought nothing of reaching into his own pocket to give lunch money to a student who forgot theirs," Terry said. "He would often use his lunch hour to go to Walmart to buy shoes or clothes for a student in need."

The luncheon's speaker was Master Sgt. Chaz Kennedy of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation's special victims unit dealing with human trafficking. He said trafficking is a problem in northeast Mississippi and urged officers to remain vigilant.


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