By Alyssa Schnugg
Being a Christian is not only something that “means the world” to Sgt. Joshua Shipp, but it’s also something he carries into work with him each day at the Oxford Police Department.
“I don’t have to hide being a Christian or being a good person (at OPD),” Shipp said recently. “It’s promoted in our work culture. We have Bible study at work, we pray for each other and those that we encounter, and we even try to go and sit in church services on duty when we can.”
Shipp was recently named OPD’s 2019 R.L. Bob Jones Officer of the Year during the department’s annual awards banquet earlier this month.
The 30-year-old patrol sergeant started working in law enforcement in 2011 with the University of Mississippi Police Department. In 2013, he went to work at OPD. Two years later, he left OPD and Oxford after accepting a job with the U.S. Secret Service where he was assigned to the Vice President Joe Biden’s home. He returned to Oxford and OPD in 2016. He was promoted to patrol sergeant in 2017. He is a team leader on OPD’s SWAT team and is also currently employed with the University of Mississippi as an adjunct legal studies professor.
“I teach undergrad law enforcement classes,” Shipp said. “I instruct a couple of topics — traffic stops and pursuit and non-emergency driving — at a few police academies throughout the state.”
Shipp said winning the award was a good way to end the year.
“It was a year of challenges, for the police department and me personally,” he said. “I made it my mission to continue to trust in God because I knew that He would bring us through those various challenges. I committed myself to be the example that I knew people needed to see. Everything wasn’t always perfect, but the stumbling blocks made us better.”
Shipp said when he thinks about what winning means, he can sum it up in one word – well-rounded.
“You have to be good at just about everything,” he said. “One of the most important things is being personable and community-oriented. You also have to be very sharp mentally and physically. I see the great works that my coworkers do on a daily basis and to be distinguished amongst them means that they must have seen some of those same great qualities in me. Also, the class of officers that have received this award before lets me know where I stand as an officer.”
OPD Chief Jeff McCutchen said Shipp exemplifies the balance between law enforcement and community relations.
“He is a hard worker and committed learner to his craft, yet spends time mentoring and serving our community,” McCutchen said. “He is a dedicated father and sets a good example for all our staff. We are blessed to have Josh serving the citizens of Oxford.”
Being a good example is something Shipp aims to do daily.
I try to maintain a positive attitude and strong work ethic because seeing a good active leader is what motivates me,” he said. “I feel that if I can come to work and be my best, then I can expect the same thing from the people that work alongside me. I try to remain humble and lead by example.”
Becoming a police officer is something Shipp wanted to achieve for as long as he can remember.
“The older I became, the more my passion grew for the profession,” he said. “I honestly feel like it was a calling from God.”
Shipp was born in Memphis. He and his family moved to Batesville in 2004 when he was in the eighth grade. He moved to Oxford about 10 years later to attend the University of Mississippi. He is single and has two daughters.
“At any given time that we leave our homes, I know that it is a possibility that we could not return to our loved ones,” he said. “It is my goal that we all go home at the end of our shift and ensure that our citizens are able to do the same.”
Other awards given out by OPD during the banquet were:
- Richard Carleton, Reserve Officer of the Year
- Jeremiah Brown, Community Service
- Brandon Jenkins, SWAT Officer of the Year
- Barry Magee, Mounted Officer of the Year
- Chase Voyles, Newcomer
- Criminal Investigations, Majors Achievement
- Rusty Rasberry, Supervisor of the Year