Phillip Humphrey named Petal Police Officer of the Year

By COLIN CAMERON,

Petal police officer Phillip Humphrey was named Police Officer of the Year at the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet on Jan. 18.

For Humphrey, being a police officer has always been a lifelong dream. In 2014, he earned a degree in construction engineering from the University of Southern Mississippi. However, he only worked briefly for an engineering firm before deciding to follow that dream.

“I worked for an engineering firm for a little while surveying pipelines, but I really didn’t want to live life with this regret in the back of my head,” Humphrey said. “I didn’t want to grow old one day and still wish I had become a police officer every time those blue lights drove by.”

“I just decided to give it a shot and chase that dream. Now I am loving every minute of it,” he said.

Humphrey has been on the police force for two years now, and he still maintains the same passion and excitement for the job he had when he started.

“I’m happy when I’m at work,” he explained. “This is the only job I’ve ever had where I don’t mind coming in early and don’t mind staying late.”

Humphrey works with the force’s K-9 unit. He explained he has the opportunity to basically work with his best friend every day, which makes the job all the more worthwhile.

“I’m a dog lover,” he said. “So it’s this combination of my dream with my love for animals that truly makes this the perfect job.”

Though the job requires certain elements of strenuous physical and mental demands, Humphrey admitted the most challenging part of it was tediously studying and learning such a wide variety of different laws.

“There is so much that goes into learning all the different laws in order for us to approach every different kind of situation the right way,” he said.

However, Humphrey said it is the gratitude he receives from the community that makes even the most challenging aspects of the job worth it at the end of the day.

“People in the community come up to us all the time just to say thank you for work that we do,” he said. “ The community feeling of appreciation is honestly the most rewarding part of the job.”

The distinction of Police Officer of the Year was given to Humphrey based on the recommendations of his fellow officers. However, he believes that his peers are equally deserving of that title.

“I don’t have any defining qualities over anyone else at this police department or anyone else in law enforcement. We are all the same, and we are all brothers and sisters that lay our lives out on the line every day,” he said. “It really means a lot that everyone I work with chose me for this title.”