LeAnn Simpson dons her police uniform. She died in the line of duty Saturday morning.
LeAnn Simpson dons her police uniform. She died in the line of duty Saturday morning.

Philadelphia police officer LeAnn Simpson is being remembered as a person who was dedicated to serving and protecting others and always having a smile on her face.

Simpson, 23, died from her injuries Saturday morning around 2 a.m. in a one-car accident responding to a call to check on a Neshoba County deputy who had made a traffic stop and lost contact with radio communications.

Funeral services are scheduled for Simpson at 10 a.m. Friday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 10131 Ball Field Road, in Philadelphia. 

Visitation is from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at John E. Stephens Chapel, 812 Pecan Ave. Philadelphia.

“She cherished many things but above all was faith, family, friends, and country,” said her mother, Wilma Simpson-McMillan. “Her smile was brilliant. She loved nothing more than to cut up with her siblings and get into sparring matches with friends.  She was a jokester.

“LeAnn could go from wearing an evening dress and looking radiant to wearing a uniform, Army or police officer, and command respect.  Her life revolved around her family, she spent many hours with nieces and nephews and special cousins.  She believed and lived by the Soldier’s Creed.”

Family roots led her to a career in law enforcement and in the military.

“We are a military family,” Simpson-McMillan said. “Her grandfather, the late Frank L. Simpson, was a Vietnam veteran.

“We always have our grandchildren around (as he did). We share our lives with them. He had a big influence on her. He talked about service and duty. From a young age, LeAnn wanted to join the military. He was in the military police, and that’s why she wanted to be a police officer.”

Simpson was a patrolman for the Philadelphia Police Department. She was also a soldier in the National Guard, having joined the Army at the age of 17. While her classmates at Neshoba Central were enjoying their summer vacation, Simpson was in basic training the summer before her senior year.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Philadelphia Police Chief Grant Myers said. “LeAnn was an outstanding young officer with a promising career. Our law enforcement community is devastated.”

Desmond Jones was Simpson’s sergeant when she first joined the Philadelphia Police Department.

“I saw something her on her first day as an officer,” Jones said. “She took it very seriously. She was very passionate about her job.

“I saw how she treated people and how they responded to her. People loved her. She would do anything for anyone,” Jones said.

“On her first day, I told her to get ready because anything could happen at any time. She said ‘I’m ready.’ She always had a smile on her face.”

Simpson was from the Tucker community. Her next-door neighbor, Andrew Jones, watched her grow up. He was also a mentor to her in Teen Tribal Court, a program offered to members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians when they are in school. It teaches them about the different roles people have in the legal system.

“I knew her since she was four years old,” Jones said. “She was over at our house all of the time while she was growing up. I had her in PE while she was in elementary school and worked with her in Teen Tribal Court. She started Teen Tribal Count in the seventh grade. She became a mentor to other teens in the program.

“She was always prepared. She could argue for the defense and the prosecution. She could adjust. She could come in and we might ask her to take on something she wasn’t ready for. She would say, ‘Ok, give me a minute.’ She might be hesitant, but she would take it on and do a good job.”

Jones remembers how mature his neighbor of 19 years was, especially at a young age. LeAnn kept on eye on his kids as well as her nieces and nephews. She knew what she wanted to do with her life and had a great work ethic.

“She would have made a good lawyer,” Jones said. “I was always on her about going back to college. She would say she was going to one day. But she wanted to be in the military, and she wanted to be a police officer. I think one of her goals was to be in the Highway Patrol. But what I will remember is that she always had a smile on her face.”

Wilma Simpson-McMillan said her daughter came into this world ready to go.

 “She was eager to get her life started on August 12, 1995, when she was born in the elevator at the University Medical Center in Jackson,” Simpson-McMillan said. “LeAnn has accomplished more in her 23 years than most do in a lifetime.”

LeAnn was a 2014 graduate of Neshoba Central High School. She was born to serve, her mother said.

After serving throughout high school in the Naval Junior ROTC program, she decided to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps to serve and joined the Mississippi Army National Guard. She served for seven years. At Basic Training, she received the excellence in marksmanship award.

Once she finished high school, she went on to her Advanced Individual Training to become a QM and chemical equipment repair specialist with the 367th Maintenance Co. of Philadelphia.

Her career path continued when she attended the BIA Office of Justice Services United States Indian Police Academy and graduated November 23, 2016.  She then worked at the Smith John Justice Complex as an adult detention officer for the MS Band of Choctaw Indian.  For the last 15 months, Officer Simpson has served with her brothers and sisters in blue on the Philadelphia Police Department.

“I have known her family for years,”

 said, Mayor James Young. “We are going to miss her. She loved being a police officer. She had great potential to be a great officer. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family.”

The accident that took Simpson’s life is being investigated by the Neshoba County Sheriff’s Department.

Her patrol car hit a light pole and flipped two or three times near the Beacon Street Baptist Church, authorities said. While there were no witnesses, it had recently rained and the road was wet. 

Chief Myers said Saturday that weather was likely a factor in the accident.