AMORY – Retiring Amory Assistant Police Chief Steve Hunt wanted to be a police officer since he was a youth. After nearly 40 years of law enforcement experience, he is closing that chapter in his life.
His father was the late justice court judge Clyde Hunt, who brought him to work as the opportunity permitted. Steve interned with local law officers while he was a student at Itawamba Community College. He began his career in public service as a deputy for former Monroe County Sheriff Pat Patterson. He recalled Patterson’s admonition about packing heat on his hip.
“He always told me to be careful with those guns,” Steve said.
He was hired as an Amory police officer in 1982 by the late chief Carl West.
“It’s not all about writing tickets. The mission is helping people and preventing crime through investigation and detective work,” he said.
Steve became Amory’s first officer to handle a K9 in 1994.
“I got bitten in the first 10 minutes of training to be a handler. I was trying the dog out but just couldn’t get bonded with that one,” he said.
Steve was injured while on duty in 1987 by an assailant who stabbed him in the throat with an ice pick that narrowly missed cutting his jugular vein.
“I was in the hospital for four days. The infection from the rusty pick swelled to the size of a grapefruit,” he said.
He had another close call in 2008.
“I suffered a heart attack while attending a class on stress. I began to experience severe chest pains on the last day of a four-day school,” he said.
Fortunately, both incidents occurred within a close distance of the hospital where Steve received quick treatment to save his life.
He was once able to save someone stranded in a vehicle who drove into a ditch during a flash flood by pulling him to safety with a dog leash. Another rescue attempt didn’t go so well as he and a lieutenant failed to get a person out of a house fire before the structure exploded into flames.
He responded to an armed robbery at a grocery store where the robber got away but due to his work with the cashier, he was able to get a composite sketch together that helped get the criminal apprehended on a beach in Florida not long afterwards.
In another instance, Steve had just gotten back into his patrol car one wintry day on the Highway 6 bridge over the Tenn-Tom Waterway when he was hit by another vehicle whose driver lost consciousness due to a heart condition. Hunt quickly radioed for assistance to get traffic blocked to make way for an ambulance to get the driver to the hospital.
“We work with emergency medical services as well as the fire department on a daily basis,” he said. “If I wouldn’t have been there that day, we may well have had another fatality.”
Steve is grateful to all who impacted his life during his career. He cites Patterson and West as his heroes, as well as Amory native Tim Rutledge with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, who is now director of training at the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy in Meridian.
“Because of his work, hundreds of officers are better trained, better equipped and much more effective,” Rutledge said during Steve’s retirement ceremony June 28. “This impacts countless citizens who will never even know that because of his work. They were not killed by a drunk driver taken off the street a half mile away or their children were spared getting addicted to drugs because Steve or the officer he trained got the dope off of the street they would have used for the first time.”
Rutledge summarized Steve’s career, as well as all others serving in law enforcement, with a verse of scripture from Hebrews 6:10: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people, and continue to help them.“
Steve is grateful for his wife, Diane, who has been part of his journey for 30 years.
“I tagged along with a lieutenant to a local doctor’s office for an appointment where I first saw her,” Hunt said. “I married her 16 months later.”
She is also a partner in law enforcement, having served as a reserve deputy for more than 20 years.
Steve’s honors through the years have included Amory City Employee of the Year in 1995, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Award in 1996, the Walmart Hero Award in 2003 and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for Monroe County in 2016.
He is grateful for the relief retirement brings but plans to remain active as an instructor in firearms safety.
“It’s been a great journey,” he said.