Mississippi Power Security Investigator Matt Shepherd has gone from base-stealer to crime fighter as the former college and professional baseball player tries to shut down those would-be wrongdoers in the Pine Belt Division.
As an investigator for the company, “our cases deal with the physical security of our customers and employees,” Shepherd said. “With any of our investigations, we protect our employees and the company name.”
Shepherd, a Hattiesburg native, is in his second year with Mississippi Power after he walked away from a stellar baseball career to work in law enforcement and focus on his family.
“Family is very important to me,” said Shepherd, who added he always wanted to have a job that kept him close to home. “The one thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been at Mississippi Power is the company’s family atmosphere. The people you work with genuinely care about each other. I believe that starts at the top and filters down to every employee.”
For years, baseball was Shepherd’s passion, as he played shortstop at Southern Miss and helped lead the Golden Eagles to a Conference USA title in 2003. A year later, Shepherd and Southern Miss made it back to the NCAA Regionals. During that 2004 season, he tied a team record that still stands after his six-hit performance in a game against TCU.
“I was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth round,” Shepherd added. “After three years of professional baseball, I got married and realized my family was a top priority. One day, I walked into my coaches’ office and said ‘thanks for this opportunity, but I’m done with baseball.’ At that point, the game had gotten to be more of a job for me.”
From there, Shepherd embarked on a four-year stint with the Hattiesburg Police Department. After that, he took a job with Norfolk Southern.
“My first three years with the company was as an actual train conductor,” he added. “It was a unique experience.”
Then, much to Shepherd’s delight, a spot opened with the Norfolk Southern Police Department.
“The job took me all over the country, from as far west as Kansas City, to as far north as upstate New York,” Shepherd said. “I had all the authority of a regular law enforcement agency in regards to crimes on railroad property or against the company. We worked all kinds of scenarios, from track obstructions, to trespassers, container thefts, car/train and pedestrian/train crashes, vehicles stalled on the tracks and even mechanical issues with moving trains. Sometimes we’d investigate thefts of railroad spikes and scrap iron. It was a wide range of issues.”
All that experience finally paid off for Shepherd, when a job opening appeared at Mississippi Power two years ago. He says the company has the same type of safety culture he learned on the rails.
“The railroad industry is where I first got to experience the emphasis on safety,” Shepherd said. “Safety was and is a way of life for me, so that made the job transition much easier.”
And at Mississippi Power, Shepherd says he also has that work-life balance that gives him more time with his wife Laura, and kids Brooxie, Tyce and Lizzie.
“The traveling is the main reason I got out of baseball and the railroad job,” he added. “Here, I feel like I hit the lottery in life.”