February 25, 2013 9:43:48 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
There's a new sheriff in town. Figuratively speaking, that is.
Mary Huggins is the new full-time sheriff's deputy at the Lowndes County Courthouse and her no-nonsense attitude lets people know she means business.
Huggins, who has been at the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department since 2005, said law enforcement is in her blood. While it took her some time to give in to the calling, once she put on her badge and gun she never looked back.
With a background in management, Huggins received her degree in business technology. She worked for several years in the business world but always had a sense that law enforcement was her true calling. So in 2005, she applied at the sheriff's department for a position as a jailer.
She worked her way up and was soon working in prisoner transport. In 2007, she joined the auxiliary and began doing ride-along with her cousin, who is also a deputy.
Huggins said once she took that first ride in a patrol car, she was hooked.
"I started working at the department as an auxiliary and I decided that's where my place was."
Then, in 2010, she left the department as a jailer to go to work full time for the Mississippi University for Women police department. She continued to work part time at the sheriff's department.
The idea of adding a deputy to the courthouse came about in December during the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors meeting.
With two bomb threats in less than a week, Chancery Clerk Lisa Neese suggested the courthouse have an officer with arrest powers. When court is in session, bailiffs provide security but do not have arrest powers, nor do they carry a weapon. As many as 1,700 people can pass through the court house on its busiest days. The final decision to hire an additional deputy strictly for the courthouse was made in January.
Since Huggins began working at the courthouse on Feb. 11, she has already brought an increased sense of order to the normally chaotic circuit court term.
While Huggins said she primarily got into the field because she enjoys helping people, she is quick to let you know that she won't tolerate anything but a respectful attitude.
"I enjoy helping people," she said. "If I can help you I will, but I don't mind holding down the law, either."
Married with a grown son, Huggins said the men in her life have accepted her career in law enforcement.
"After a year or two went by, it just kind of fell into place," Huggins said.
She said her husband has been very supportive of her career choice.
"It's my career and he'll support me in it," she said.
With a twinkle in her eye, the attitude that speaks without Huggins having to say a word is abundantly clear. "He knows I can handle myself," she said.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.