The purpose of the organization is to foster an open and transparent, reciprocal dialogue between the first responders and legislators.

Mississippi’s local and state public first responders, representing firefighters, law enforcement and EMTs, announced today a coalition of State Senators and House Representatives working alongside members of their groups. The caucus will have an organizational meeting the first week of the 2022 session.

Named the Mississippi Legislative First Responders Caucus, the purpose of the organization is to foster an open and transparent, reciprocal dialogue between the first responders and legislators.

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“These first responders decided that together they could be a resource for the legislature,” said Donna Echols who represents the three founding first responders groups (Mississippi Chiefs of Police Association, Mississippi State Troopers Association, and Mississippi Professional Firefighters Association). “At the same time, they believe it will be a productive way to communicate with legislators to find a path forward for their most pressing issues. All other first responder groups are invited to participate.”

The group will hold a series of events, lunches, coffees and meetings to foster the intended open communication and to keep the group’s issues top of mind. The hope is that legislators will learn and be in a position to gain more knowledge by attending additional first responder events along with memorials for those lost in the line of duty.

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“All state and local public first responder services are recognized by the Mississippi First Responder Caucus,” said House Representative Bubba Carpenter (R-Burnsville). Carpenter is a former EMT and Army National Guard veteran who founded the group with law enforcement and fire service associations and will serve as the caucus’ first President.

Carpenter added, “It is our hope that more legislators will become a part of our group once we get started. There is no formal process to sign up. Legislators can simply show up and attend the meetings whenever it is possible.

State Senator Brice Wiggins (R-Pascagoula), a former prosecutor, will serve as the Senate Chair of the caucus. Senator Wiggins has a long history supporting law enforcement. He has been named “Legislator of the Year” in recent years by the Mississippi Law Enforcement Association.

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“This is an exciting collaboration that we hope will transcend traditional politics to really get things done for the people of Mississippi,” said Wiggins. “First responders put their lives on the line every day. Police officers over the last couple of years have been unfairly singled out and criticized for just doing their job under tough circumstances. This caucus will help us understand the needs of all first responders better so we can provide the support that they need and deserve.”

Representative Jeff Hale (R-Desoto County), a retired firefighter, will serve as the House Chair.

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“As a former first responder, I took an oath to protect and serve just as members of the Mississippi Legislature take an oath to faithfully support the constitution and discharge the duties of their office,” said Hale. “These oaths are unique to these groups as not everyone is required to swear an oath of office. It is part of this uniqueness that brings us together in service to and protection of others.”

The motto of the Mississippi Legislative First Responders Caucus is: Virtute Honoris et Officium (Valor Honor and Duty). The group is proud to be guided by scripture from Joshua 1:9 “Be Strong and Courageous for the Lord your God is With You.”

Listed below are the founding members:

President: Bubba Carpenter (R-Burnsville)

House Chair: Jeff Hale (R-Nesbit)

Representative Brent Anderson (R-Waveland)

Representative Becky Currie (R-Brookhaven)

Representative Casey Eure (R-Biloxi)

Representative Michael Ted Evans (D-Philadelphia)

Representative Karl Gibbs (D-West Point)

Representative Robert Johnson (D- Natchez)

Representative Dana McLean (R-Columbus)

Representative Karl Oliver (R-Winona)

Representative Donnie Scoggin (R-Ellisvile)

Senate Chair: Brice Wiggins (R-Pascagoula)

Senator Juan Barnett (D-Heidelberg)

Senator Nicole Boyd (R-Oxford)

Senator Joel Carter (R-Gulfport)

Senator Dennis DeBar (R-Leakesville)

Senator Jeremy England (R-Vancleave)

Senator Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall)

Senator Angela Hill (R-Picayune)

Senator Chad McMahan (R-Tupelo)

Senator Mike Thompson (R-Diamondhead)

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Release from the Mississippi Legislative First Responders Caucus