Deputy Chief Sheridan Maiden: Lot of changes during 40-year career

Published 2:43 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Deputy Chief Sheridan Maiden has worked at the Oxford Police Department for almost 16 years, but his lengthy career in law enforcement more than doubles that amount of time.

Maiden, 65, got into law enforcement about 40 years ago. 

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. 

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The son of the late Howard and Alma Maiden, Sheridan 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 called 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 Ole Miss criminal justice professor Chester Quarles; retired law enforcement officers Charles Woods and Len Kitchens; U.S. Probation parole officer Johnny Still; retired UPD detective Wayne Mills; 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,” Maiden said.

Maiden worked at the University of Police Department while attending school. During the next quarter of a century, he would work at the city of Starkville Police Department 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.

In May 2008, 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. When Chief Jeff McCutchen took over OPD as chief in 2019, Maiden was promoted to deputy chief.

When not serving as a police officer, Maiden spends time with his family 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.

With retirement looming, Maiden said when that time comes he will spend more time with his quickly-growing five grandchildren.

Maiden has seen many changes over this 40-year career, both in law enforcement and in Oxford. “Technology has really changed the way we do things,” he said. “And Oxford has grown a lot since 2008. We always had heavy game-day traffic, but not like it is now. With the city’s growth, we had to look at new ways to manage the larger crowds in that area. We also manage all the school traffic, as well.

When Maiden joined OPD there were 55 officers. Today, there are 83 sworn officers, for a total of 118 employees.

Working with new and younger officers, Maiden offers the following advice: “Don’t be afraid of talking to the public,” he said. “You’d be surprised how much you can learn and have in common.”