Harrison County

‘Your officer was a godsend’ visitor says of Biloxi cop. Here’s why.

Biloxi police helped University of Maryland Eastern Shore professors Grace Namwamba and Virginie Zoumenou get to their hotel Tuesday despite running into barricades for the Gulf Coast Carnival Association’s Mardi Gras parade. Namwamba Facebook messaged the City of Biloxi to praise officer Ashley Pack for her service.
Biloxi police helped University of Maryland Eastern Shore professors Grace Namwamba and Virginie Zoumenou get to their hotel Tuesday despite running into barricades for the Gulf Coast Carnival Association’s Mardi Gras parade. Namwamba Facebook messaged the City of Biloxi to praise officer Ashley Pack for her service.

How often are folks in the back of a police cruiser all smiles?

That was exactly the scene Tuesday at the Gulf Coast Carnival Association’s Mardi Gras parade in downtown Biloxi — but probably not for the reason you’re thinking.

Having just flown into town from Maryland for a conference, all Grace Namwamba wanted to do was get to her hotel.

There was one minor problem — their airport taxi couldn’t get through the parade route barricades.

Dropped off blocks from their hotel, with four heavy pieces of luggage in hand, they weighed their options. About that time, Biloxi officer Ashley Pack stopped and offered to help them complete their commute.

“As we were struggling to pull our luggage, Officer Pack approached us and offered us a ride in her police cruiser,” Namwamba said in a Facebook message to Biloxi that was later posted on the city’s Facebook page. “She went a step further and loaded our bags in the trunk of the cruiser and dropped us off close to the hotel entrance. Thank you Officer Pack for making our visit to Biloxi much better.

“You are an inspiration to all because of your kindness and dedication to the public. I wish you all the best in your career as an exemplary police officer.”

Biloxi police patrolman Ashleigh Pack never received any special treatment as she worked her way through police academy and into the ranks. She feels like everybody has the same opportunity to succeed if they are persistent and work hard.

The Department of Human Ecology professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore later told city spokesman Vincent Creel the ride sent her mind rushing back to her childhood in Kenya, where her father was also a police officer.

“It brought back many memories after so many years,” Namwamba said. “Your officer was a godsend, an angel, and I was thinking for an officer to feel that she can do something like this, it must be a culture in your department. I will never forget Biloxi.”

Thanks to Pack, Namwamba told the Sun Herald, she was able to check into her hotel and get streetside in time to catch the start of the parade.

“I’ve seen some parades,” said the former LSU professor, “but none this close.”

According to the City of Biloxi’s Facebook page, “between 45,000 and 55,000” attended Tuesday’s parade.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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