Randy “Tank” Tankersley is a 49 year old rookie in a local police department and he couldn’t be prouder of what he does. As he talks about his life and his career in law enforcement and prior firefighting career he is obviously happy with his choices. Serving his community has always been something he has endeavored to do.
Tankersley was raised by his grandparents in Pottsville. His grandfather was the manager of the Tyson Research Farm in Pottsville. His job on the farm consisted of bringing in new chickens, collecting eggs, and dressing and cleaning chickens. While he was growing up he would go visit his aunt and uncle in Jonesboro where he had a cousin on the local Fire Department. His cousin would let him climb on the trucks and he fell in love with it. In high school he had his first paying job, hauling hay.
First, Tankersley attended the Pottsville school district. He later attended school in Dardanelle, and then went on to attend high school in England, Arkansas. During his junior year there was a stabbing in his class. He decided he didn’t want to go to school anymore, so he dropped out and went to work. At the age of 17 Tankersley and his parents moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas and he found work at Coors Rice Mill in nearby Weiner, Arkansas. While working at Coors, the company offered all employees who were interested a chance to get their GED with all expenses paid; he accepted the offer. He soon met his wife and got married. At the age of 27 Tankersley joined the U.S. Air Force.
His wife’s cousin worked at the Weiner Fire Department and offered Tankersley to come take a look at the trucks and see the department. While there he asked how to join and was hired on the spot. This began a seventeen year career as a firefighter that ended with in as Captain of the Pottsville Fire Department. About a year and a half ago he went on a few ride-alongs and then decided to take on a part time position with the Pottsville Police Department.
Soon he decided that he loved working as a police officer so much he wanted to pursue a full time position. On December 22, 2013 the chief of the Pottsville Police Department Tankersley a fulltime position which had become available after another officer had retired. Tankersley enthusiastically accepted the position and thus began his new career as a full time police officer. He left the fire department when he took the full time position.
Being 49 years old and switching careers was not a hard decision for him to make, but it was scary to leave a lifetime career to a new one. In the academy, most of the other attendees were only 18-20 years old. Though he was considerably older than his classmates, Tankersley felt that the age gap gave him an advantage over the others. He was able to take on the mental stress, process the information better, and know more when an exercise is designed to stress him than the younger trainees. On the road he isn’t so much concerned with being further on in his life than most other rookies because he feels he is able to keep a level head and talk through stressful situations with citizens. He has not yet had an altercation with any citizens because he has been able to keep calm, help them remain calm, and talk through it with them.
Tankersley has dedicated his entire life to serving his community and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He lives to serve and protect and his favorite part of his job, even as a fire department captain, is working with the kids in his community. In August he took time from his day to finger print the children at Pottsville schools. His three grandchildren are some of his main sources of inspiration. When he talks about them his eyes light up and a smile spreads across his face from ear to ear. He beams as he talks about his grandson wanting to be an Army man since he could talk and at how his other two grandchildren love his police car and that their grandpa is a police officer. He is proud to show his grandchildren, and even his 32 year old son, that they can do anything they set out to do and that their father/grandfather does something good.
Even though he claims to start everything late in his life, he still goes after what he wants and gets it. It took bravery to step away from a 17 year career and start something new. It is never too late to improve your life and be happy with what you are doing. Tankersley has dedicated his adult life to serving and protecting his community. Taking on a job to protect other people in the face of danger is not something everyone can do. It takes special people to fill those roles for our society and he is certainly one of the good special ones.