Daniel Harris, Jr., grew up in the small town of Anguilla, Mississippi, with a family that bestowed a positive outlook on life.
Harris has made it his mission to pass down that same positive outlook to all he encounters in his lengthy career in law enforcement.
“My mom’s motto was if she can help one person each day, her living won’t be in vain,” he said.
With his mother devoted to civil rights activism, Harris tossed around the idea of being a lawyer, but ultimately, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps instead.
“My dad was a part time law enforcement officer in Louise, Mississippi, and my uncles were security guards. I even had one uncle who was a military veteran,” he said.
As a student at Alcorn State University, Harris began his law enforcement start in Claiborne County as a jailer.
Two years into his new career, his mother, Emma Cooper Harris, became the first African American woman to be elected mayor of Anguilla, which is located in the heart of Sharkey County, in 2001.
Harris moved back home and worked for the Sharkey County Sheriff’s Department. His passion for law enforcement grew when he was sent to the police academy. His career took a new direction when he accepted a job with the Mississippi Department of Correction in 2003 while still working part time with the Sharkey County Sheriff’s Department. After a two-year stint with MDOC, Harris piqued the interest of a Vicksburg judge.
In 2005, Judge Frank Vollor recognized Harris’ talent and asked him to work as a drug officer for the Warren County Drug Court where he has been now for 15 years.
Harris uses his law enforcement career to instill a positive spirit and encouragement to the drug offenders he encounters through the court.
“When I would see my clients in drug court, I would always say or do something to make them smile,” Harris said. “I don’t know what has happened in their past or what they’ve gone through, and I just want to be there for them.”
Harris said some of the offenders aren’t amused with him and may try to cause problems, but as the jail door slams, he always shares the same message to each of them.
“Keep your head up,” he said. “My dad passed away when I was 10, and he would always tell me to never look down regardless of what may happen. You may fall down, but you have to get back up, stick your chest out, and keep your head up.”
Those pep talks from Harris work for some of the drug offenders, and he never sees them again, but even the addicts and repeat offenders cling to Harris’ words.
“Even when the addicts fall and come in again, yeah, I’m disappointed, but I still work with them harder. I tell them, ‘There’s nothing I won’t do to get you back on track,’” he said.
Harris shared that most drug offenders he sees really don’t have a solid family life and no one to look up to. He tries to offer that sense of stability and mentorship they have lacked in their life.
Harris also works with the Vicksburg Police Department as a patrol officer.
His mother died in March of this year, and Harris still holds her motto of helping others near and dear to his heart, now more than ever.
“My mom embedded in me to help somebody no matter what — just help. Help them, help them, help them,” he said.