UMMC honors police, security, emergency responders with ‘Blessing of the Badges’Published on Thursday, September 1, 2022By: Ruth CumminsEvery day, they run toward the danger, not away from it.They're the University of Mississippi Medical Center's sworn law enforcement officers, security officers, firefighters, public safety staff, emergency responders and members of the military.Whether a tangible shield on their chest or unseen, they wear the badge.On Thursday, the Medical Center honored them with a Blessing of the Badges Ceremony in tribute to their passion for keeping the UMMC campus safe. UMMC Chaplain Mark Gilbert, center, blesses the badge of Officer Cameron Smith, who represented the rest of the UMMC Police and Public Safety Department.Wilson"What you do, day in and day out, is truly a service to the community," UMMC's chief administrative officer, Dr. Jonathan Wilson, said of the 66-member sworn police force, 19 security officers, eight police dispatchers, and dozens of others charged with protecting the campus and the thousands of students, employees, patients and visitors who pass through it daily."You come to work, and you put the badge on. We're here to celebrate you and honor you."About 30 police and security officers in addition to safety staff and emergency responders attended the event in the University Hospital Chapel. Their badges were lined up on a table in front of Chaplain Mark Gilbert, who offered the blessing."This symbol is beyond just a badge we wear. It's an identity we hold," Gilbert said. "It's an identity of protection. It's an identity of community. It's an identity of sacrifice."As I bless these badges, I am blessing more than what we do. I also bless who we are."Mary Paradis, chief of the UMMC Police and Public Safety Department, thanks officers and emergency responders for running into harm's way, not away from it.Mary Paradis, chief of the UMMC Police and Public Safety Department, said the department leads with its mission statement that officers helped to develop.The mission statement includes the department's core values: integrity, professionalism, respect, accountability, transparency and empathy.Campus leaders including Wilson "rely on us to run toward danger, not away from it," she said. "And thanks to all the brave first responders for putting on the badge and running toward harm's way every day."Wilson and Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, received honorary badges in thanks for their dedication in keeping the UMMC campus safe.