403rd SFS defender aids in infant rescue

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

During Unit Training Assembly weekends, Tech. Sgt. Rachel Harris works as a combat arms instructor for the 403rd Security Forces Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. She ensures reservists across the wing are properly trained on weapons handling, firing, and care as is routinely required.

When she’s not in her occupational camouflage pattern uniform, she dons all black as an officer for the Slidell Police Department in Slidell, Louisiana.

In the heat of early July, while Harris was on patrol for SPD, a call was put out concerning a female suspect walking around at a store potentially endangering an infant, to which Harris and another officer responded.

“We responded to the call, but the woman had already left the scene, so we went looking for her using her license plate number one of the onlookers reported,” recounted Harris. “We realized that this was the same number associated with a hit and run reported earlier.”

While patrolling in the area, the call went out that the woman had returned to the initial scene.

“As we were heading back to the scene, dispatch told us that the woman did not have the baby with her,” she said. “We found her inside the store where we arrested her and questioned her on the whereabouts of the baby.”

After learning from the suspect that she left the child in the vehicle, Harris and the other officer hurriedly searched the parking lot, finding the car with a 16-day-old infant alone inside, strapped loosely into a car-seat meant for a toddler.

“The woman said she left the car running with the air on, but when we found the car, there was hot air blowing and the baby was wrapped in a blanket,” said Harris. “At that time, it was 93 degrees outside, and we think the baby had been in there for around 20 minutes, so it was probably 110, 115 degrees inside the car.”

Thanks to the quick responses from all involved, the infant was found in time, received treatment from on-scene emergency medical technicians and at a nearby hospital, and is expected to be okay.

Being able to help innocent people is what Harris says is her “Why?” and what motivated her to choose a path towards becoming a police officer—a path the Air Force helped her follow.

Harris has served in the Air Force for 14 years, the entire time as a member of security forces.

“I joined active duty because I wanted to be a cop, and I couldn’t be one on the civilian side without either four years of college or without military,” she explained.

After 6 years on active duty, she decided to fulfill that initial goal of being a police officer on the civilian side but figured since she already had as many years of military service as she had, that she might as well keep doing that as well.

“This story is just one example of the exemplary dedication to service Tech. Sgt. Harris possesses both as a security forces member serving her nation and as a police officer serving her community,” said Lt. Col. James Coleman, 403rd SFS commander. “We’re proud of her and the others involved for their heroic actions, and we are proud to have her among our ranks.”