Hancock comes out of retirement for home town
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
For some law enforcement officers, retiring is not easy.
Melvin L. (Lee) Hancock Jr. had a career in law enforcement, beginning with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. in December of 1987. He moved up through the ranks, achieving major, and became certified in numerous areas, including crash reconstruction, narcotics investigations, drug interdiction, hate crimes and hostage negotiations, before leaving the force in June of 2003 to accept a position with the Zionsville Police Dept.
Hancock, who became a lieutenant and acting chief there, said it was a small department that grew while he was there, citing Zionsville’s proximity to Indianapolis.
He stayed there a little more than four years, expanding his training to include weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and police sniper.
In August of 2007, Hancock was lured to Florida, where he joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Dept.
“We had 575 officers,” Hancock said.
The agency also patrolled a number of waterways, inlets and canals.
Hancock, who enjoys fishing and golf, found Florida appealing. Professionally, he continued his training in fire/arson origin and cause investigation, juvenile interview techniques, fraud and economic crimes investigation, domestic extremism training and gypsies/travelers crimes and elderly victims. The list of police-related courses he’s taken is lengthy.
After nearly 30 years in law enforcement, Hancock retired in August of 2017 and returned home to Southern Indiana to be near family.
“I loved my career,” he said. “I worked with so many wonderful men and women.”
Home restoration projects and selling firearms at a sporting goods store replaced the police work.
That is until earlier this year when Rusty Sizemore, a long-time police officer for the Town of Lanesville, ran into Hancock and asked him if he’d be interested in joining the police department.
“I had never thought about it,” Hancock said, “but the idea intrigued me. Working for a town department was something I hadn’t done before.”
Hancock was familiar with Lanesville, having graduated high school there in 1979 and served as junior high basketball coach from 1999 to 2003. Prior to that, he served as basketball coach at nearby St. John’s Lutheran School and was a volunteer Little League baseball coach in Lanesville. His children, Erin and Eric, graduated from Lanesville, too.
Hancock usually visited the area at least a couple of times a year since he still has family living here.
He said he can recall images in his head of riding his bike through town when he was 10 to 12.
“The images don’t match up,” Hancock said, as some of the buildings are now gone or the businesses have changed.
After discussions with his wife, Millie, Hancock, now 60, agreed to take on the part-time position. Sizemore and Tom Walter, who also served a number of years as town marshal, both recently retired. Walter joined the town council in July, succeeding Linda Smith, who stepped down.
Soon after putting on the Lanesville uniform, Hancock said he would evaluate the department’s reserve program, with hopes of expanding it.
This summer, three reserve officers — Jerry Lovans II, John Gott and Chris Walden — were sworn in. Hancock said Walden, a former officer for the Town of Corydon and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept., likely would take Sizemore’s place on the department.
Hancock said he likely wouldn’t have come out of retirement but the offer was for his home town.
“I’m deeply rooted into a network of family,” he said.
Hancock said it’s been nice to reconnect with people he’s known for years.
While the role of town marshal in Lanesville is still part-time position, Hancock said he hopes to expand it,
“There’s more people here than there used to be,” Hancock said.
He also noted there’s “quite an influx of students (at the school) from out of the area.”
Hancock intends to build the department toward the future and be pro-active. His door is always open.
“I’m willing to meet with anyone who has an issue to discuss,” he said. “Come by the town hall or leave a number and I’ll call you back.”