Jan. 20—Meridian Community College staffer Matthew Atchison achieved a career milestone in the latter days of December — he graduated from the Southern Regional Public Safety Institute's rigorous 11-week academy.
Now certified as a Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer, he's back on his day shift at MCC, where he has served since July.
"This is a big accomplishment for him and required a lot of dedication and sacrifice from both Matthew and his family," said MCC Campus Police Chief Casey McElhenney, Atchison's supervisor.
Meridian Community College Campus Police Department is a full-service police agency operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with full-time sworn police officers. Campus Police work very closely and share jurisdiction with the Meridian Police Department, Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies.
With a desire to make a difference, Atchison was motivated to pursue a career in law enforcement after a personal tragedy involving a family member in 2015. Coming to MCC was a step in his goal to help others.
"I always wanted to be in law enforcement, and the college seemed like a great place to work; good people and just a great community," Atchison said.
He credits his colleague, Sgt. Terry Boler, for the training he gave Atchison before Atchison went to the academy.
The academy was no walk in the park for Atchison and his classmates, and he described the experience as physically and mentally demanding.
"There were plenty of times me and my other classmates were like, 'No, we need to go on home.'" But they persevered. "It was definitely worth it in the end," Atchison noted.
One key takeaway from his training was the importance of situational awareness.
"Always be aware of your surroundings. You can never be too safe," he said.
Another part of his training covered mental health and communication skills, preparing him to handle unpredictable situations and defuse potential conflicts.
Atchison is not only dedicated to his career but also to his family. He and his wife, Morgan, have been married for five years and are the parents of 2-year-old son Myles. As a youngster, Atchison lived in New Orleans, and his family moved north after Hurricane Katrina to Washington County, Alabama, where he was raised.
Excited to be back on campus serving the college, Atchison looks forward to a great spring semester.
"If any students need anything or someone to talk to, they can come to me," he added.
Contact Glenda Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org.