Vicksburg native Christopher ‘Blake’ Scallions says he has looked up to law enforcement since childhood, and now he’s humbled by the honor of wearing a badge himself.
It is the career he was born to do, at least according to his 7th grade career assessment. Scallions said his interest in law enforcement was reinforced by the exam, which identified his ideal career path to be in military service, law enforcement or as a paramedic.
As soon as he was old enough, Scallions applied to join the Vicksburg Police Department and was accepted. It was March of 2020, and the pandemic was just beginning to sweep across the nation. Concerns about the virus interrupted the regular on-boarding procedure for the 21-year-old new recruit, something that Scallions says ended up being beneficial to his training.
“I got to spend about three months learning booking and doing ride-alongs before I ever went to academy,” Officer Scallions said. “So, I got to learn a lot before I went. By the time I got back from academy, I pretty much knew the ropes.”
But there is a lot more to being a great police officer than what can be taught in a classroom, a fact that Scallions was quick to acknowledge.
“If it wasn’t for the shift I am on now, I wouldn’t be half the officer that I am,” Scallions said. “Lt. Trueheart, Sgt. Williams and the whole shift are amazing. They’re always there for me. We’re always there for each other.”
The comradery among officers and the mentorship he receives from the top brass, Scallions says, is critical to foster a department of competent and healthy public servants.
“It’s not as easy as it looks. We go home with this stuff, especially when it comes to young children and older people,” Scallions said. “I’ve laughed in this car and I’ve cried in this car.”
As a patrol officer, Scallions encounters a myriad of different situations on any given day. The job can be satisfying, rewarding, saddening, lonely and fulfilling all during the same shift. One of the biggest challenges for police is learning to compartmentalize the array of trauma that they witness, and experience themselves, so they can respond to the next call with full focus.
Anyone who has worked with the public knows that there are a lot of different kinds of people in the world. Police officers interact with all of them, many times on the worst day of their lives. It is an extremely specialized skill in and of itself to be able to assess a situation, assess the individuals involved and quickly deliver the correct response.
“We are just people, just like everybody else,” the humble officer said. It is true that cops are human beings, with the same emotions and challenges we all experience, but this writer draws the line at ‘just like everybody else’. It takes a person of incredible strength, courage, compassion and integrity to succeed in law enforcement. It is not a job that just anyone could, or should, do.
Someone like Officer Blake Scallions, who has shown dedication to both the job and to the community at large with just the right mix of confidence and humility, is exactly the kind of person we need keeping watch and keeping us safe.
“I’m here to protect and serve, and I mean that with everything that I have,” he said.
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