A military career-ending injury eventually led one of McMinnville Police Department’s newest officers to join the force.
“When I was young I wanted to be a soldier like my grandfather who served in World War II and I ended up following in his footsteps. I served as a Cavalry Scout in the U.S. Army for nearly 10 years before a knee injury ended my time in the army and I was medically retired,” said officer Jay Hutchings. “When my career in the Army was cut short, we moved our family back to McMinnville and I got my CDL.”
Hutchings drove a truck for a bit and tried factory work for a short time, but it just didn’t feel right to him.
“I realized I wanted to serve the public and a regular job just wasn’t for me. I applied at the Sheriff’s Department and worked as a corrections officer for six months until I saw the Police Department was hiring and got on with them in March,” Hutchings said. “I was inspired to be a police officer because I wanted to make a difference in my community.”
Hutchings attended the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in Nashville from July until late September.
“The most challenging part of the academy was probably week six, which was defensive tactics. I aggravated my old knee injury on Tuesday that week and had to fight that Thursday for the practical exam,” said Hutchings. “Thankfully it was just a little swelling and pain and I pushed through it.”
Hutchings intended to keep a low profile during his time at the academy but that plan was thwarted immediately.
“My plan going into the academy was to lay low, but I was put in a leadership position on the first day and I just treated it like my group was my soldiers,” Hutchings said. “I was voted vice president of my class because I always tried to help others where I could.”
Hutchings moved to McMinnville from Kansas when he was 4 years old and is a 2009 graduate of WCHS. He and his wife Meagan have been married for 10 years and have six children. Hutchings feels like he’s found where he’s supposed to be on the police force.
“As a police officer now I just want to learn from my superiors and other officers and serve the people of McMinnville to the best of my ability,” said Hutchings. “I hope to stay in this profession until I retire.”