HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- At forty-nine years of age, most sheriff’s deputies are probably winding down their careers. But Bill Collins -- one of Hanover County’s newest deputies -- is just getting started.
“I wasn’t done being a good guy yet,” Collins said. "I’ve always been around law enforcement.”
The middle-aged lawman is one of Hanover County’s newest deputies.
“I went through the hiring process and they gave me a shot,” Collins said. “I can remember when the background investigator came, he asked me point blank, ‘What are you doing?’”
The Pennsylvania native has a knack for serving in uniform whether county or country.
“Third Special Forces group will always be my home,” Collins said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Collins spent 30 years in the U.S. Army and half of those as a Green Beret. The Sgt. Major served three combat tours in Afghanistan filled with close calls.
“Long story short, it wasn’t our guys. We basically ran into an ambush,” Collins remembered.
Following retirement in 2017, the Purple Heart recipient felt like he still had more to give of himself.
“When I found Hanover County, it fit for me,” Collins said about applying to become a deputy.
However, when you’re pushing 50, the body doesn’t respond like it used to.
“It's been awhile since I had to do pushups, burpees and roll around in the grass it was interesting. It was fun,” Collins said.
The father of seven says selflessness is the family business. His brothers, sister and father all have worn uniforms in some capacity.
“We’re just a military, police force family. That is what we do. We serve,” Collins said.
The fresh-faced Hanover deputy is old enough to be his fellow deputy’s dad.
“Oh, absolutely. I was the oldest guy in the room at roll call the other day,” Collins said.
But Collins said he can offer something most new deputies cannot: the advantage of life experience.
“So when I get into an interaction with a citizen, chances are I probably can understand where they are coming from," he explained.
Sgt. James Cooper said hiring veterans is a priority of Hanover County Sheriff Col. David Hines.
“When Bill was in the academy, he stood out like a sore thumb,” Cooper said. “He has a lot more to give, and whatever he wants to give, we’ll take it.”
As a result, nearly one-third the sheriff’s personnel has some type of military background.
“They understand service above self and they know how to operate as a team,” Cooper said.
“Obviously, I won’t retire with a full pension, because that would mean I’d be a deputy up till I’m 70, and I think that would be too old,” Collins said.
Deputy William Collins proves that age is just a number and now matter your age, there is always a new way of serving.
“I spent 30 years protecting the country, now I’ll spend my time protecting the county,” Collins said.
Collins will finish his probationary period in March of 2019 and then become a full-time deputy for the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
“Where else I could contribute? What else can I do? Hanover County and the Sheriff’s Department is what I found, and I think I made the right decision," Collins explained. "We’re learning.”
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