When a police officer hears that final out-of-service call, also known as the “final shift call” on the radio, a bevy of emotions take place. That announcement from the dispatcher means a man or woman who has dedicated his or her entire career to protecting and serving the community now sees that the door from working career to retirement is opening in front of them.
For some, there may be sadness, for some possible relief, but for almost all of them who have put in the time, the sacrifice and commitment knowing they may not return home at night to their families, there is the satisfaction of a job well done.
Such is the case for Southaven Police Sgt. Donna Holloway, who last Friday at 4 p.m. heard her ‘final shift call’ that ended a 30-year career in law enforcement, 28 of them with the Southaven department. Holloway, who finished her time as a School Resource Officer (SRO) for Hope Sullivan and Southaven Elementary schools, was called in from doing something she has wanted to do her entire life.
“I’ve always wanted to do police work, even when I was in high school,” Holloway said. “I started my career dispatching and worked for the Sheriff’s Department for about two years and then I came to Southaven and have been here for almost 28 years.”
Holloway’s law enforcement experience has included time as a dispatcher, time on the streets, and the past 14 years as an SRO at Hope Sullivan, Southaven Elementary, Southaven Intermediate, Greenbrook, and Magnolia schools. It is her work with youngsters that has given Holloway the most satisfaction.
“That makes me proud more than anything because that was probably my best years, being an SRO,” Holloway said. “I enjoyed getting the bad guys when they do something wrong, but being able to impact a young child’s life and get them to go down the right path is awesome.”
Holloway also defends the concept of having police officers patrolling inside local schools.
“SRO’s are a deterrent, first of all, from anybody coming in and doing harm,” she explained. “Being able to protect the teachers, the students, and the principals at the schools is a rewarding feeling. People are looking for a soft target and our schools are soft targets.”
As a dispatcher, Holloway quickly learned about dealing with the stress a law enforcement career requires. During a crime situation, being back at the dispatch center means a cool head and the requirement to do several important tasks, many times at the same time.
“You’re trying to keep people calm and you’re trying to stay calm and you’re trying to put out the best information you can for the officers, so they will be safe,” Holloway said. “If you have multiple calls coming in, you have a lot going on. You have to be able to multitask, for sure.”
Holloway especially had to rely on her training on two occasions 10 years apart when she had to fire her weapon to respond to a pair of incidents. In 2005, Holloway had to fire and wound a fleeing suspect accused in the robbery of Hubcap Annie’s in Horn Lake. Ten years later in 2015, a man wanted in Missouri was attempted to escape as Horn Lake and Southaven officers tried to capture him along I-55 near Goodman Road. The suspect swerved his car toward her squad car in the median and she had to fire to defend herself.
In both cases, there is little time to think.
“Your training kicks in because you get tunnel vision and I’m very thankful for that,” said Holloway. “You have a fear that someone's trying to kill you, so then you get a little angry at the same time. You have to do something to save yourself.”
Another program Holloway was active in as a police officer was Shop With A Cop, where selected youngsters in need are assisted by an officer in choosing Christmas gifts that are paid for by funds the department was able to raise. Holloway embraced that program for 14 years.
“You’re helping kids in the community that may not have a very good Christmas,” she said. “I usually get the names of the kids from my school counselors and teachers, because they know the kids that are in need. It’s so rewarding. You get to see the kids’ eyes light up and know they get to take those gifts home.”
Holloway still plans to be active in support of the schools and will also be part of the police department’s Volunteers In Policing program as she enters retirement.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.