Desoto County News

Behind the Badge Award presented to Holladay

Photo: Mayor Ken Adams (right) looks on as District Attorney Matthew Barton presents Lt. Ashley Holladay the “Behind the Badge” award. (Bob Bakken/

When former pastor and educator Daniel Harris pleaded guilty to Olive Branch charges relating to sex crimes against children as far back as 2015, much of the evidence against him was put together by an Olive Branch Police Department detective.

Monday morning, March 25, Detective Lt. Ashley Holladay of the Olive Branch Police Department was recognized for her work with the latest “Behind the Badge” award presentation by District Attorney Matthew Barton.  

“She was the detective that led the charge on the Harris case that we recently got a conviction for sex crimes against kids,” Barton said. “She was the one that put that case together and really did a great job.”

At the time of his arrest, Harris was listed as a pastor at Olive Branch Christian Church. The church’s website at the time said he founded the Kaimen Center, teaching arts, athletics and academics to children and adults with disabilities.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Ben Weathers, with investigative assistance from Holladay and criminal investigators from the District Attorney’s Office.

The guilty plea and verdict allowed the victims from not having to relive their experiences in a courtroom, which Holladay said she was grateful for.  

“I mean, these are super hard cases,” Holladay said. “I appreciate you (Barton) taking them as seriously as we do and not letting him off with a light plea deal. I think it’s well deserved and really gave them justice so that they didn’t have to go to court and relive the trauma in front of everybody.”

Barton praised Holladay for the work she did in putting the case against Harris together.  He said it takes a lot out of the investigators who are involved.  

“It takes a long, a long time to put together a case like that and she really endured the whole thing and demonstrated the best of what law enforcement has to offer,” Barton said. “We would not have been able to get justice for those kids if it were not for the work she did.”

Barton added the award will be an ongoing thing to recognize “whenever we do get a good result it’s because our law enforcement stood up tall for the community and we want the credit to go where it belongs.”