Terry Police Chief Mike Ivy took office last month as the top cop in the town he’s lived in for almost 30 years.
He’d long kept his eyes on the position, hoping to see it come open. When it happened, it happened fast. Within six days of submitting his application, he was tapped for the job.
After working in some of the bigger departments in the state, Ivy already had an idea how he wanted to do it.
“Early in my career, I was assigned to a beat structure in a precinct, and after a while you get your own beat in Jackson,” he said. “If you take the time you can do some community policing… it really does mean something and it certainly means something to the recipients.”
Working in a small town is like working a beat in a city, he said. In both cases it’s just about establishing relationships and showing respect to the people you come into contact with. It’s a concept he’s working in to the department in the town of Terry as much as he can.
“If you’ll establish trust with people, they will talk to you and they’ll give you good information and they’ll help you out. You know not just for the aspect of helping them out, but you should do that because they’ve already given you their trust in allowing you to have the honor of being a police officer and serving them.”
Ivy’s career has taken him through a lot of different situations that not every cop has to face, some tragic, some terrifying, some controversial, but all brought out important leadership characteristics that prepared him to lead the police in Terry with an eye not on any personal agenda or politics, but on being a servant.
Holding the position of Head of Corrections in Hinds County brought some particularly important lessons.
“One of my biggest mental growth spurts happened when I was in charge of the jail,” he said. “It helped me see even more clearly that even people who are going to jail, whether they’re innocent or not, whether they end up being convicted or not, they’re still somebody’s child, they’re still somebody’s father, they’re still somebody’s mother, and you have to see them as that and understand that and treat them as if it were your mother or your father or your child.”
Once Ivy was sued along with the sheriff’s department and others by a man who felt he’d been mistreated there The man who brought the lawsuit had been there before Ivy worked in corrections. He had been convicted of murder, but they had known each other for years.
The man, acting as his own attorney, approached the judge.
“Judge, I’ve gotta say this. This is a really nice guy,” Ivy recalls him saying. “He’s my neighbor. I went fishing at his house.”
Looking to Ivy on the stand, the judge asked if the story was true. He confirmed that it was.
“It just was kind of hard for the judge to compute that that had taken place and that he was suing me,” Ivy said.
“Your Honor, I don’t want to sue him, but they told me I had to sue him because I had to sue everybody,” Ivy remembered his neighbor saying.
The case went on, and it was dropped against Ivy.
Responding to the climate nationally that seems to swing “anti-cop,” driving division between police and their communities, Ivy had a promise for Terry.
“There have been some issues across the country that quite frankly are just atrocious in some cases, and we can’t have that here,” he said.
Ivy talks about the people of Terry as though they are revered members of his family.
“They expect and deserve personal communications and help, and I enjoy giving it to them.”