If successful in his bid for the Henry County Sheriff’s post, Del Mills said the first thing he would do when he takes office in January is start meeting with everyone in the department.
Mills, who will face interim Sheriff Wayne Davis for the position, said meeting employees is necessary because “you know, get to know everybody, get to find out what drives them, what their passion is, where they can better serve the community.
“We’ve got to get to know the people there, and get to know the officers,” said Mills, who also pledged to donate his salary during the first year to charity if he is elected.
Mills said he plans to use a more community-oriented policing strategy to involve the community in the functions of the sheriff’s office so the department can better serve the public. He also wants to make a strong push for neighborhood watch associations, and those ideas are making strides with supporters.
“Everywhere we go, the feedback’s been good. You know, we’ve tried to plant positive seeds along the way. You haven’t heard any form of rhetoric from us. We’re not going to do that. We’re just trying to be positive and upbeat and try to do as much for the community and support the sheriff’s office along the way,” he said.
Regarding his promise to put his brother, David Mills, in charge of the Adult Detention Center, Mills said that currently, his brother is the most qualified candidate.
“David and I worked there together in the same sheriff’s office for 20 years, and there was never an issue. Even now, you have family members working within the sheriff’s office, and I’m sure they do an outstanding job,” he said.
From what he’s seen over the years, Mills said nepotism is not a negative word.
“Nepotism breeds familiarity. I don’t see where it’s negative at all, or where it could possibly be negative at all,” he said.
Mills said he’s going to speak with everyone in the office and find out what they do best and where their passions are at, including Davis, but he in no way plans to clean house or otherwise harm employees who may have supported another candidate.
“As of right now, Daryl Hatcher is the Chief Deputy and David Mills will be the Jail Administrator,” Mills said. “This is not a house cleaning effort at all. There are many, many talented men and women at that sheriff’s office and we want to utilize them to the best of their abilities.”
Mills, who retired from the office in 2019, said he believes the best way to run his campaign is talk to people in the community that know him and those who have worked for and with him, his brother and Hatcher.
“You’ll find out truly who we are and where we stand,” he said.
Mills served active duty in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1990. He trained at Fort Jackson, SC, Fort Gordon, Georgia, and Neubrucke, Germany, and was a communications specialist.
Mills was then in the reserves in Salem for two years as an instructor trainer.
“I completed what they call the ITC course, the Instructor Training Course, and what that kind of encompasses is, you’re there to train others. Specifically, I had a communications background, so I was certified to train others in communications skills,” he said.
Mills served for 25 years from 1994 to 2019 in the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, holding various positions. He served as a corrections officer in the jail for 12 years before moving to patrol, community policing, evidence technician, School Resource Officer (SRO), and later, a civil process officer before his retirement.
Mills estimated he served in community policing for 18-months, and spent about two and a half years as an SRO at schools that included Magna Vista High School, Drewry Mason Elementary School, Rich Acres Elementary School, and G.W. Carver Elementary School.
Mills said he requested to go from evidence technician to SRO.
“I requested to go from evidence technician to school resource,” he said, adding that later, “there was an opening in the civil process due to retirement, so they put me there.”
Mills currently operates the Henry County Food Pantry, which relocated from the HJDB Event Center to the former Bassett Printing building, and serves 1,200 to 1,400 families each month.