By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel
RIPLEY – Tippah County Sheriff’s Deputy Pete Crum may be 67, but he recently became the oldest deputy from Tippah County to complete a police academy.
The part-time deputy graduated Dec. 20 from the 10-week Reserve Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy program at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Crum went to classes several nights each week, taking courses that included constitutional law, first aid, self-defense, defensive driving, use of sprays and impact weapons and firearms qualification. He earned a 95 on his final exam.
The course also included physical training. Crum started training early for the program, knowing he’d have to pass the standards for the top age group of 40-50. The results showed. During his final physical fitness test, he did 31 push-ups in two minutes, logged a 1.5-mile run in 16:30, and did an agility run in 20.5 seconds.
“The hardest part of the PT was the running. The agility drill also really took it out of me. I also disliked the courses on state statutes. They’re confusing for a layman trying to read lawyers’ work,” Crum said.
Crum said he is grateful for Sheriff Karl Gaillard believing in him.
“Pete does a wonderful job for us,” Gaillard said. “His primary job is serving papers and transporting prisoners and mental patients. Most of the work he does is in connection with chancery court cases. He takes care of it, does his job well, and takes a big strain off our department.”
Crum has a broad background in law enforcement. He started in 1972 as a dispatcher for the Ripley Police Department. He also worked as a patrolman. He spent eight years as the Blue Mountain city marshal, and has worked for three different sheriffs as an auxiliary deputy. He also owned and operated his own cemetery monument company for many years, gaining the nickname “Tombstone Pete.”
Despite that varied law enforcement background, changing state regulations required him to earn state certification to continue in law enforcement.
When his time to attend the academy came, he was ready. He attributes a lot of that to his wife, Linda, and the rest was a drive to do his best.
“Thirteen officers started, but only seven graduated,” Crum said. “Some people in the class couldn’t do five pushups, and they were younger than I was. One time I almost walked. I got frustrated with myself because I thought I wasn’t doing as well as I was. As it turned out, I was doing better than I thought, but I didn’t know that at the time.”