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Police and Firefighter banquet recognizes best in city

Public safety employees from the Picayune Police Department and Picayune Fire Department were recognized for their service at the annual police and firefighter appreciation luncheon Thursday, held by the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce.

Firefighter of the Year

Chase Mitchell was recognized as the 2020 Firefighter of the Year. Mitchell joined the department in March 2017, said Fire Chief Keith Brown.

Brown described Mitchell as an outstanding asset to the department with a bright future. He said that Mitchell has excelled in his firefighting skills because he is willing to receive additional education.

Brown quoted Department training officer Josh Abercrombie: “(Mitchell) critiques himself after every call, wanting to ensure that his firefighting knowledge and skills are enhanced after each one.”

Officer of the Year

Detective Aaron Grob was recognized as the 2020 Officer of the Year. Sworn members of the Picayune Police Department nominate an employee they believe is worthy of the award.

Grob joined the department in August 2017 as a patrol officer, before working his way through the ranks, said Police Chief Freddy Drennan. Grob has served in the department as sergeant, lieutenant and detective.

Grob began his career in law enforcement as a military police officer from 2002 until 2006. He then became a school resource officer at the Stone County Sheriff’s Office and in 2007 began as a patrol officer in the Wiggins Police Department. He has worked as a state certified instructor, a shift supervisor, a crisis negotiator and a narcotics supervisor.

Civilian of the Year

Sharon Cox was awarded Civilian of the Year. The award recognizes a civilian employee of the Picayune Police Department who is admired by their peers. Members of the Picayune Police Department nominate an employee they believe should be recognized.

Cox joined the department in February 2016 as an emergency telecommunicator. She also serves as a dispatch supervisor. She goes above and beyond in her work at the department, Drennan said.

Chief’s Award

Officer Garrett Duplechain was awarded the 2020 Chief’s Award. The award recognizes an officer for exemplary performance, who strives to serve the community and who embodies high moral character.

Duplechain began his career in law enforcement in October 2019. He ranked in the top third of his Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy class. He achieved a near perfect score in firearms training, qualifying him as an expert marksman, said Drennan.

Fire Chief Retirement

During the event it was announced that Fire Chief Keith Brown will retire at the end of the year. He was also recognized for his 22 years with the fire department. In his time at the department he has overseen the construction of two new fire stations and the fire rating in the city has improved from class six to class four.

Incoming Chamber of Commerce President Mark Stockstill closed the event by thanking the public safety employees for their service to the city.

“When people are in need, the very sight of you brings comfort,” said Stockstill.