Scott Mellinger begins life after long career in law enforcement
By Sue Hughes | For The Times-Post
MADISON COUNTY — At midnight Dec. 31, Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger ended his 42-year career as a police officer.
“I will be finished supervising people,” said Mellinger, 66, who was sheriff of Madison County for eight years and said he’s ready to turn the reins over to someone else.
Mellinger is a Pendleton native.
His parents, Jack and Cokie Mellinger, were well known in the Pendleton area. The Mellingers opened the first Dairy Queen in Pendleton, where Scott worked as a teenager.
Scott Mellinger graduated from Pendleton Heights High School in 1974. After graduation he studied criminal justice at Ball State University.
“There were two teachers at Pendleton Heights who affected my outlook,” Mellinger said. “Mr. Steele and Mr. Wallace preached public service. I wanted to live up to what they wanted me to be.”
During summer breaks from Ball State, Mellinger worked at Mounds State Park in Anderson, where he made several friends who were state police officers. That helped influence his decision to go into law enforcement.
His first job was at Indianapolis International Airport.
“Things were a lot different at the airport back then. It was a much quieter place,” he said.
Mellinger worked there for three months before being hired by Madison County Sheriff’s Department.
His first position was in the jail, followed by three years as a patrol officer. He was then appointed chief deputy under Sheriff Mark Thompson.
After leaving that appointment, he became director of Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield.
Following that he was director of training for Marion County Sheriff’s Department.
While he was working for Marion County, he worked part time at what is now Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville.
Mellinger said one of his more interesting jobs was working security for Indianapolis Colts football games.
A job he did for six years, “It was interesting working with the rich people there,” he said.
When Mellinger wasn’t busy with law enforcement, he was also in the state legislature, serving for three years from 1999 to 2002.
Mellinger has served four terms of office as the sheriff of Madison County, the first two from 1991 to 1999 and the two he just finished, from 2015 through 2022. (Republican John L. Beeman defeated Democrat Joey Cole in November’s election to succeed Mellinger.)
Mellinger said he had many interesting cases during his tenure.
He said one detective received an anonymous threat on his life. A criminal this detective had put in prison was out and planned to kill him.
The sheriff and his department had to pretend they knew nothing about the threat.
The FBI and the ATF were called in to help.
Some of them posed as offenders, and some tailed the man who made the threat.
“My favorite part was the night we took him down at the Motel 6, I handed the phone to the detective and told him to read him his rights,” Mellinger said.
In another case, an inmate of the state reformatory was on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the killing of another inmate. The inmate recruited mercenaries to storm the courthouse and help him escape. The eight mercenaries were arrested at a local motel, and a cache of weapons and ammunition was seized.
Mellinger, speaking about his employees, said, “First responders do a great job; our men and women of the sheriff’s department are the very best.”
He added, “My greatest honor has been to serve my local community. I (woke) up every day saying, ‘I get to be sheriff.’”
With just days left on the job, Mellinger said retirement didn’t mean he was going to sit down and do nothing. He said one dream he has always had is to work at a golf course, which he plans to do this summer. Hobbies include playing golf, hiking and camping. He said he also wants to spend more time with family.
Mellinger lives east of Anderson and said he does not plan to move.
He said he likes to frequent restaurants around the county, including in Pendleton, where some of his family members live.
“It’ll always be home,” he said.