403rd Defender receives civilian first responder award

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

Master Sgt. Cody Gill, 403rd Security Forces Squadron standards and evaluation superintendent, was recently recognized as a 2023 First Responder of the Year recipient for his work in his civilian job as an Ocean Springs Police Department patrol sergeant.

The award, presented by Keesler Federal Credit Union, is selected by peers and highlights first responders throughout the Gulf Coast who embody what it means and takes to be a first responder.

“There are so many officers and other first responders throughout the community who deserve recognition, so to be selected by my peers as deserving of this award is an honor,” Gill said. “It’s nice seeing my hard work recognized, and it motivates me to just keep doing a good job.”

Some of his highlights and characteristics cited during his award presentation included leading the department in driving under the influence arrests, multiple crisis interventions, and being proactive.

He sees his role as contraire to the public perception of someone on a mission to hand out as many tickets and arrests as possible.

“It is our job to enforce the law, but more so it’s our job to help people in the community,” he said. “I like this job because I’m not stuck behind a desk. I get to go out and meet people, and I get to be that person that helps them on a bad day, and when we do have to make an arrest or order a citation, it serves the purpose of protecting the community.”

Gill has served with OSPD since 2019, and recently promoted to patrol sergeant, a role that comes with supervisory responsibility. Having served in the Air Force security forces career field since 2013 on active duty then as a reservist, he said his experience in the Air Force has helped prepare him to lead in his civilian career.

“Going through courses like (Airman Leadership School) and (Noncommissioned Officer Academy) and gaining the experience leading troops on the military side have definitely helped me with the supervisor skills and leadership and mentorship,” he said.

The professional development courses have not only made him a better leader, he said he has gained perspective and empathy, and that has made him a better individual and law enforcement professional.

Chief Master Sgt. Ryan Buffington, 403rd SFS senior enlisted leader, commended Gill’s success, noting that this is his second civilian award this year and that he also received a STEP II promotion to master sergeant on the military side.

“I think a lot of Gill’s success comes from leveraging the skills he’s learned in Air Force security forces,” said Buffington. “It shows the power that we have here. If you dedicate yourself and utilize the skills and resources the Air Force teaches you, it will open all sorts of doors for you, and his success is an example of that.”

He described Gill as a phenomenal example of effort and dedication.

“I’m happy to have him in our unit,” the chief said “He grinds and puts in the effort, and with effort comes excellence. He deserves the recognition.”