Black Oxford police major ‘blessed’ for 35 years’ service
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Growing up in the Mississippi Delta in the late 60s, becoming a police officer was something that never crossed Sheridan Maiden’s mind.
“There weren’t many policemen who looked like me at the time,” Maiden said.
However, Maiden, now 59 and with almost 30 years of law enforcement experience, says he couldn’t imagine his life any other way.
The son of the late Howard and Alma Maiden, learned the value of hard work at a young age while picking cotton in Clarksdale as a young man.
“When I got the opportunity to go to college, I took it,” he said.
He attended the University of Mississippi where he earned a bachelor’s degree in what was then called public administration but today, is a degree in criminal justice. He said it was the relationships he made while at Ole Miss that steered him into a law enforcement career.
He credits the late Chester Quarles, Ole Miss criminal justice professor; retired law enforcement officers Charles Woods and Len Kitchens, U.S. Probation parole officer, Johnny Still and former FBI agent and local attorney Dwight Ball with inspiring him to continue his education and pursue a career as a law enforcement officer.
“Those gentlemen had a big impact on my life,” he said.
Maiden worked at the University of Police Department while attending school. Over the next quarter of a century, he would work at Mississippi State University in Starkville before being transferred to the Mississippi Police Academy. He moved on to Jackson State University where he would eventually serve as assistant chief.
“I’ve trained well over 1,000 officers while at the academy,” Maiden said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys move up and become chiefs — both black and white — and it makes me feel good knowing I helped these guys be able to move up in their career.”
Maiden met his wife, Doris while attending Ole Miss and the couple raised two daughters, Melanie and Sherae.
“My oldest was in college already and the younger one was about to start college, so we decided to move back to Oxford,” he said.
However, Maiden received a phone call from the governor’s office and was asked to take a job with the State Capitol Police Department under Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. There he served as chief and director of law enforcement of the Department of Finance.
When Gov. Haley Barbour was elected, Maiden left Jackson and went to work for the Madison Police Department for four years before returning to Oxford again to work for the University of Mississippi Police Department.
Nine years ago, he was hired at the Oxford Police Department by then-Chief Mike Martin as a patrolman and accreditation manager. He was promoted to sergeant and eventually, to Major working directly under Oxford Police Chief Joey East.
“OPD was looking at pursuing state accreditation and they knew I had worked with several other departments to get their accreditation and asked if I’d come to help OPD with theirs,” Maiden said.
OPD received its state accreditation from the Mississippi Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission in 2013 and is now currently working on receiving its Tier 1 accreditation from Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
When not being a police officer, Maiden spends time with his five grandchildren and working with other children from Lafayette County through the Oxford Park Commission where he volunteers regularly, whether helping at the Oxford Activity Center, working at FNC Park or coaching.
“I’ve been blessed to be associated with OPD and OPC and the city of Oxford,” he said. “People here are very kind and I now consider this home.”
Maiden says he has no immediate plans to retire.
“I feel good, my health is good,” he said. “As long as the chief is satisfied with my work, I want to hang in there.”
Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com