HPD’s White Named Keesler Federal Credit Union First Responder of the Year

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Eight years ago, officials at the Keesler Federal Credit Union instituted the First Responder of the Year Award, designed to recognize first responders — police, firefighters, paramedics and others — for their work in their communities during of the past year.

This year, the local honor went to Devon White of the Hattiesburg Police Department, who received an award at a short reception on Tuesday.

“I was surprised, but also humbled at the same time that others appreciate the work we do here at the Hattiesburg Police Department,” White said. “Anytime you’re honored or recognized for something, it’s a really good feeling.

“I am extremely grateful and always strive to do my job as competently as possible, day in and day out.”

Jones, a graduate of Wayne County High School and Jones College, started at HPD in 2018. He is currently a member of the Special Operations Division and Quality of Life Team.

“I just want to continue to help protect and serve the citizens of Hattiesburg, and do my part to make the community safer for everyone,” White said.

The First Responder of the Year award was launched in Jackson County, but has since expanded to Keesler’s entire footprint, which includes from Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama; and from the coast to Madison. Credit union managers normally send nomination requests to 120 different departments; this year, 67 departments responded.

“It was no longer an in-person dinner event on the coast, and has now expanded to cover a wide range of areas where we now go to first responders in person,” said Caitlin Bradshaw, Community Development Officer for Keesler. “We send the potential up to 120 nominations; if we got back 120, we would do all 120.

“We send these requests for nominations to whoever is the head of each different department, whether it’s the Hattiesburg Police Department, or I did the Wiggins Police Department earlier. We do fire services, and we also do ambulatory services.

Bradshaw said the award is about recognizing that first responders are the people who keep communities alive.

“As credit unions, our communities are so important to us, especially with Keesler Federal,” she said. “We want to make sure the communities we find ourselves in are safe, and our first responders are essential to keeping our communities wonderful.

“I got a lot of different responses (when giving the award). Sometimes departments have a surprise in store, so there’s a lot of shock and excitement. Sometimes they go ahead and tell them that we’re going to be there, because some people are camera shy and things like that, and we’re always welcomed and have a really good relationship with all the departments that nominate every year.

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