When officer Joseph Branch was growing up, he had his older brother to mentor and lead him through life.
Now, Branch continues that trend at the Yazoo City Police Department, heavily focusing on local youth to give them the same positive direction that was bestowed upon him.
“I want to teach and follow-up with every kid I encounter,” Branch said. “Whether if they are in an unstable situation at home or heading down the wrong path, I want to make sure they are taking the right direction.”
A Vicksburg native and Warren Central High School graduate, Branch joined the Yazoo City Police Department in May of 2019. Being in law enforcement was something that he had always dreamed of pursuing.
“My brother Cammie Branch was an officer with the Vicksburg Police Department,” he said. “My family was always a part of law enforcement, and I knew that I always wanted to get involved with police work.”
His older brother Cammie was a positive influence on Branch’s life. And he knew he wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“He taught me everything between what was right and wrong,” Branch said.
Branch briefly worked at the Vicksburg Police Department as a booking officer before joining the local force. He also graduated from the state police academy, ready to continue his career.
The biggest reward?
“The smile on the kids’ faces,” he quickly replied. “When we are that first call to protect them, the smile when they say, ‘you got here and saved my life before anything happened,’ that is the best thing at the end of the day.”
But encountering with the local youth has its share of challenges, as well.
“I don’t like seeing the struggles that anyone has to deal with, especially kids,” he said. “It’s the aftermath. Seeing the kids having to live in a situation where there is fighting, domestic violence or other struggles. That part is the hardest.”
Branch said he understands that manpower is always an obstacle with the local police force. But he hopes the community doesn’t see a small staff as a problem.
“We might be shorthanded, but we are here for them,” Branch said. “Whenever you need us, we are there.”
Branch has seen a variety of cases during his tenure in Yazoo City. But the ones that stand out always involve children, reflecting back on the biggest challenge.
“Those always stick out, the kids from abandoned homes,” he said. “Situations where Dad beats Mom, and the kids have to watch it. They have to grow up too fast, and it can lead to them heading into other lifestyles.”
But Branch said he follows up with those cases, any cases.
“I have a 13-year-old kid who I keep checking on,” he said. “He thanks me for at least coming to check on him. The follow-up is the best in every situation. It shows people that you care. I want them to know if they have problems, they can call and I will come and check on them.”
In his spare time, Branch spends time with his 11-year-old daughter and fiancé Jasmine Galloway. They are to be married July 18. He can also be found hunting or fishing.
“I want to do anything to keep my mind occupied,” he said.
And Branch knows he is part of a team that care about each other.
“I want to thank Chief Jay Winstead and Capt. William Nevels,” he said. “They believe I me. They see what I have accomplished and what I can achieve. I am grateful to them for that.”
And as the interview concludes, Branch looks over to a box of toys he collects to distribute to the children of Yazoo when he responds to call.
“Yeah, I got to get out to Fourteenth Street today,” he said. “I got a kid I promised I would bring him a toy.”