(This week The Columbian-Progress spotlights Columbia Police Department Patrolman Justin Porter.)
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Hattiesburg, March 19, 1993.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: I graduated from Columbia High School and got my bachelor’s degree from Full Sail University.
Q: Where do you work? Tell us about your job/company.
A: I’m a patrolman for the Columbia Police Department, and it’s basically a little bit of everything. I go on patrol, answer calls and do security details here and there. Some days you have calls that are way out there, then some days you go without having any. I’ve been with the department since November 2018.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: I always wanted to be a cop, but I joined the military first then became a cop. I was in the Marine Corps for five years. When I was little, I used to run around with those foam, toy revolvers and wore one of those sheriff badges with the hat on. My mom used to always yell at me.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Public service. A lot of people don’t understand it, but I like helping folks.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: It would have to be gaining public trust because right now it’s pretty difficult. You can only do so much. With everything going on, a lot of people have a vague “I don’t like the police” mentality. But they don’t really understand a lot of the things that go on with a lot of the incidents, and they don’t really care to look into it for what it is. It’s hard gaining the public trust with social media and the incidents that are happening around the country now. You get out with somebody, pull them over, go to talk them and immediately it’s “What did you stop me for!” with an immediate attitude. They just don’t like us right now.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
A: You never know what to expect nowadays so you always have to be prepared for anything. You go on a call for a situation and get told it’s one thing, then you get there and it’s completely different. Or you have a traffic stop, and it turns into something completely different than you expected it to go.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I washed cars at Kane’s Car Wash on High School Avenue.
Q: Who are the people who have been most influential in your life?
A: My mom, Slylina Porter, and my stepdad, Michael Slemaker. I called my mom about going back to school this past week, and she said “What are you waiting on? Go for it. You have nothing but time.” She’s always been supportive, and my stepdad is the same way. He’s always been there to keep me going.
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: A New York strip cooked medium rare at home.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’ve been to a lot of places, but I haven’t been to France and have always wanted to go there. I took French for two years in high school and learned about the culture and the food. I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve been to Okinawa, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Germany and places like that but never France.
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I like to go fishing now. I recently picked it up over the last few months. If I’m not fishing, I’m usually playing PlayStation. I do a lot of music stuff, too. I’m going back to school starting Monday so schoolwork is going to take up a lot of my time. I’m going back to Full Sail for my master’s.
Q: What do you enjoy about Columbia and Marion County?
A: It’s my home. I’ve always wanted to work at home. It’s sad in some occasions when you see people you grew up with and classmates who aren’t doing so well, but I like helping people here at my home. It’s my family and where I grew up. I walked these streets all the time.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: Albert Einstein, I got a couple of questions for him. I want to know how he got so smart. I understand reading books and everything but good gracious. He was a genius. I would want to know what some of his tips and tricks are. Did he read 24/7 or was he just naturally smart and picked up on things quickly?
Q: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
A: I do play a lot of video games.
Q: What moment in your life has had the biggest impact on who you are today?
A: It would definitely be the Marine Corps, but there’s several moments. There’s boot camp, there’s going into your unit and there’s deployments, but I would have to say going to Afghanistan. Being deployed there helped me really understand a lot of things. It helped me to be more humble and grateful for what I do have because it’s really different there.
Q: What is one thing you want to do that you’ve never tried?
A: I want to go scuba diving.
Q: Using one word for each, what are your top three morals?
A: Humble, compassionate and brave.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: I want to go down as an overall great person who was friendly and did things worthy of being remembered. I want to be somebody who actually made a difference.
— Joshua Campbell