Making a difference in young people’s lives is something Tommy Curtis Jr. strives to do each and every day.
Curtis has worn many hats and held dozens of titles in his 15 years in law enforcement, but the one he cherishes the most is his current job leading the Juvenile Division for the Vicksburg Police Department.
Curtis lives life by a special motto.
“Once somebody gives to you, you give to somebody else,” he said.
“I’m passionate about youth because I was a youth at one time,” Curtis added, “and I had people that came along that helped me. When you are a youth, you always remember that one person that helped you and inspired you.”
That person in Curtis’ life was Officer Randy Naylor. Naylor is no stranger to Vicksburg and served on the Vicksburg Police Department for over 20 years. He passed away of cancer in 2013, but his legacy lives on with today’s law enforcement personnel, like Curtis.
“He always was around talking to us,” Curtis said. “What he taught me carried over to me being an adult, and he showed me officers can be great people that can help with an issue and also help you reach your goals.”
Under Naylor’s leadership, the Street Ball Program was born. This program is designed to keep young people off the streets and give them a sense of pride and structure. Now, Curtis has taken over as coordinator of the program.
“They come in one way and learn conflict resolution,” Curtis said. “We talk to them and bridge the gap between officers and kids by being hands on.”
Curtis said the officers become friends and mentors to the program participants.
“The officers come in with street clothes on and look just like them,” Curtis said.
Curtis does not do the program for any rewards, but he did say it feels good seeing successes.
“You see people who were in the program all grown up and say, ‘Hey officer Curtis. I remember you. I’m doing good now,’ and it just makes me smile knowing this program makes a difference,” he said.
Curtis has had many memorable moments, accomplishments and awards over his 15-year career including Top Cop in 2016 and Officer of the Year in 2011. He was also recognized by Delbert Hosemann, then Secretary of State, for a Behind the Badge spotlight in 2016, but he says he owes his success to his family.
“My family is me,” he said.
The 40-year-old has been married for 17 years and has three children. Outside of law enforcement, Curtis has created an empire of businesses he likes to call Curtis Enterprise.
Curtis is the owner of All Around Gym located in the Vicksburg Mall. His wife, Rebecca, owns a successful tax-preparing company. The couple’s three children have also been quite the entrepreneurs. His oldest son, Tommy III, is a music producer. Curtis’ middle son, Anthony, is a YouTube sensation with over 30,000 subscribers. The youngest child, Dejonae, owns a business called Dee Dee’s Baby Cakes also located in the Vicksburg Mall.
“They get a great example from myself and my wife,” Curtis said. “ I’m amazed at all my kids do.”
Curtis said he tries every day to exemplify the same leadership traits with youth on the job as he does with his children.
“I try to be an officer that is full of joy,” he said. “The kids I serve know I’m stern, but I build a rapport with them first,” Curtis said.
Curtis believes when you help children at any age they are like a sponge. “They take what you taught them, and they take it with them forever,” he said.
Curtis encourages everyone to give back.
“I feel like if you’re gonna give back, you need to give back to your young people because that’s our future,” he said.
Curtis said most people see him as just a police officer on the outside, but on the inside he sees himself as a leader and mentor to children.
“I love this field because of the different ways you can reach people,” he said.