Gluckstadt chief recalls working with fallen Meridian police officer

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Memorial candle(Jon Sullivan)
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 9:40 PM CDT
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GLUCKSTADT, Miss. (WLBT) - Gluckstadt Police Chief Wendell Watts says Thursday’s officer-involved shooting in Meridian is another reminder of what it means to be a “brother in blue.”

“Kennis Croom was a friend and a good officer,” he said. “Today sucks.”

Thursday, Croom and an unidentified female were killed in Meridian.

Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler confirmed the officer’s identity.

The suspect, Dante Marquez Bender, was still on the run Thursday night.

Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has issued a statewide Blue Alert for the suspect.

“We lost a brother in blue along with being a friend,” Watts said in a Facebook post. “This is especially hard because everyone in law enforcement has been on similar calls and (knows) that it can happen to them or their partner or their friend.”

“I’ve lost a lot of officers over the years that were friends and colleagues. Today brings them all back.”

Wendell Watts reflects on officers lost in the line of duty.
Wendell Watts reflects on officers lost in the line of duty.(WLBT)

Watts was head of security at Merit Health Central when Croom was with Jackson Police Department and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

He got to know Croom when he worked extra jobs at the hospital.

“He’s just a good guy,” he said.

Watts, a law enforcement veteran, lost his best friend in 1997. He recalled receiving a phone call about it in his post on social media.

“My partner for almost five years and best friend killed,” he said. “I can only tell the family of the Meridian officer that I am sorry. I know how you feel, but know he died doing what he loved to do.”

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