LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Rhonda Sanders has devoted almost three decades to law enforcement.
Sanders says she didn’t know she was making history as the first Black female officer for the Columbus Police Department when she was hired 27 years ago.
She says two city council members and the mayor at the time were the driving forces behind her joining the department.
“They were the ones who brought it to my attention that there had never been an African American law enforcement woman,” she said.
Sanders got to work connecting with the community and helped the department open several police substations in neighborhoods around town.
“We started it just to put police officers in the community – close to the public. If you needed something you could just walk over and talk to us, ”she said.
Sanders now works with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department. She says protecting and serving is her daily mission. The commitment to service was instilled in her by her grandmother and mother.
Those values inspired her to join forces other community leaders to start a non-profit. The Benefit Committee leads numerous projects in Columbus and Lowndes County. One especially close to Sanders’ heart is the “Beds for Kids” program.
“So many times I would go into houses and see kids sleeping on a pallet and for some reason that just really touched me. So our mission is to get as many kids beds. The police officers go out on calls and if they see a kid that’s sleeping on the floor we get them a bed, ”she said.
It is the kind of service she wants to be remembered for long after she has retired her badge. “I’m a servant. I love law enforcement and I just love to help people. ”
Ashley Furniture partners with the Benefit Committee for the “Beds for Kids” programs. So far, they’ve donated more than 500 new beds to children in Lowndes County.