Dep. Jarrell Mills

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

‘Country boy’ work pays off for deputy


By Billy Davis

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The local newspaper can almost always find space to brag about a police officer graduating from the academy, but the story of Jarrell Mills comes with a little extra front-page gusto.

“I guess I’m just put together good,” Mills said of winning a first-place award for the highest physical training (PT) score among his peers.

Mills, a Panola County sheriff’s deputy from Batesville, graduated October 16 from the law enforcement academy at Miss. Delta Community College. The 10-week course allows cadets to earn certification by the state.

Lest you think he’s bragging, consider that Mills earned the PT award, and a second award for a five-mile run, at the age of 55.

Mills scored 97.13 percent on the physical training, which included push-ups, a mile-and-a-half run, and 100-yard sprints among other exercises.     

He conquered the five-mile run with a time of 43:28, an average of about 8.5 minutes per mile.

At the end of the 10-week course, he had earned the nickname “Iron Man.”

The certification will allow Mills to move from part-time to full-time status at the sheriff’s department. He has worked part time since 2005 after retiring from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mills recalled that he had been seeking the full-time employment when he received a phone call from Chief Deputy Otis Griffin.

“Otis called me on a Wednesday and said, ‘They’ve got an opening at the academy. Are you ready to go?’ On Sunday I was at the academy,” Mills recalled.

Asked how he prepared for the academy, Mills credited “country boy” work, such as operating a chainsaw and training horses. That description prompted his “put together good” comment.

Mills also credited a three-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1970s, which he believes trained him mentally to overcome the physical challenges.

“You were programmed to overcome anything – any pain,” he said. “You weren’t allowed to quit.”

Mills said he lost 25 pounds during the police academy training.