Lieutenant Jerald Wheeler
Southaven (MS) Police Department
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Lieutenant Jerald Wheeler, of the Southaven (MS) Police Department, as the recipient of its Officer of the Month Award for October 2014.
In 1999, Lieutenant Wheeler believed that a memorial needed to be built in his community to honor the fallen officers of DeSoto County. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is more than a thousand miles from DeSoto County, and the families and friends of fallen officers would need to travel a long way to visit this peaceful place devoted to their loved ones. Lieutenant Wheeler’s close friend and fellow officer, Lieutenant James William Lance, Jr, was shot and killed in the line of duty on October 7, 1988, a loss that heavily influenced Lieutenant Wheeler’s decision to build a memorial in his community.
Lieutenant Wheeler and other community members founded the DeSoto County Public Safety committee. Together, they raised nearly $100,000 in donations and in December 2004, the DeSoto Public Safety Officer Memorial was officially dedicated. The memorial is located at the DeSoto County Courthouse in Hernando, MS. A special remembrance ceremony is held at the memorial on the first Friday of May each year.
Following the dedication of the memorial, the DeSoto County Public Safety Committee still had funds remaining. Lieutenant Wheeler led the effort to use the extra money to establish a scholarship fund with Northwest Mississippi Community College. The committee created eight named endowments to honor each of the fallen officers from DeSoto County. Since the endowments were created in 2008, $21,600 in scholarships have been awarded to students majoring in public service areas like Criminal Justice, EMT-Paramedic, and Nursing.
Throughout his 30-year career in law enforcement, Lieutenant Wheeler has worked on various programs within his community. He is responsible for creating the Southaven Police Department’s Volunteer in Policing program and Citizen’s Police Academy and is also a co-founder of the Southaven Police Department’s Explorers Program. Lieutenant Wheeler is also in charge of the department’s School Resource Officer division and visits as many as five local schools each day.
“We are so very proud of Lt. Wheeler and the excellent work he always does for our department and community.” said Tom Long, Chief of the Southaven (MS) Police Department. “We are so glad to see his wonderful accomplishments recognized on a national scale as he is most deserving.”
“We are proud to announce Lieutenant Wheeler as our October Officer of the Month,” said Craig Floyd, Memorial Fund CEO & Chairman. “His dedication to serving the community throughout his career exceeds far beyond the expectations of a law enforcement officer, and he is most deserving of our Officer of the Month Award.”
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Lieutenant Wheeler, along with the other Officer of the Month Award recipients for 2014 will be honored at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in May 2015, during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of service and heroism will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar.
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.