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Chief honored at VIP gala

Brookhaven Police Chief Arlustra “Pap” Henderson Jr. waseffusive in his praise of mentors, co-workers and city officialsFriday night while receiving accolades from hundreds at the 2006Ole Brook VIP Awards Banquet and Gala.

“This award tonight has my name on it, but it wouldn’t bepossible without you,” he said, asking members of the policedepartment in attendance to stand and be recognized.

Henderson said it was a proud moment for him and he was glad hecould share it with his family. The chief’s wife, Ella, children,mother, siblings and even a cousin from Chicago attended the galain his honor.

“This is a big day for him. He’s been looking forward to it,”said brother Henry Henderson of Brookhaven. “I wouldn’t missit.”

Henderson, a 1965 graduate of Alexander High School, was electedin a landslide in 2001 to become Brookhaven’s first black policechief. He was unopposed for his second term.

Henderson joined the police force in 1970, working the nightshift, while continuing to hold full-time jobs during the day. Hewas promoted to assistant chief when Fred McKee was elected in1989.

The police chief is also well-known for his efforts to improvethe community and for his dedication to the church. As a member ofMt. Wade M.B. Church, he serves as deacon, choir director, musicdirector of the brotherhood, president of pastor’s aid and head ofthe building and grounds committee.

The glitzy gala was a first for the “O” Foundation, founded lastyear to promote unity in the community and to recognize outstandingcivic leaders.

Henderson was only the first to be recognized, said Rose “Polly”Powell, “O” Foundation founder and event organizer. In years tocome, other citizens will be honored for their selfless dedicationto the community, Powell said.

Dr. Robert Walker, chief administrative officer for the city ofJackson, was the event’s guest speaker.

Walker, a former three-term mayor of Vicksburg and Warren Countysupervisor who has held numerous influential state postings,praised Henderson and said he epitomized a good role model. Hespoke about community unity and self-sacrifice for the good ofall.

Local dignitaries also praised Henderson during shortspeeches.