Buddy’s back: Deputy back on the job

Published 12:56 am Friday, September 23, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Dispatcher Jackie Dennis has a big hug for Deputy Buddy Frank on first day back to work after recovering from a bullet wound to his right leg. Frank was injured while attempting to stop a bank robbery at United Mississippi Bank on U.S. 61 South in June.

NATCHEZ — Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Buddy Frank returned to work Wednesday with a little more street cred to apply to his job — training his friends on the force to fire their guns.

Three months ago, the firearms instructor discharged his weapon for the first time in his nearly 15-year career — outside the shooting range — hitting the shoulder of a bank robbery suspect who had just shot him in leg.

“I had never fired a firearm (in the line of duty),” Frank said.

Frank prepares to start his patrol shift on his first day back on the job.

“It was second-nature. That’s the good part about training — you don’t have to wonder what to do, it’s just reaction.”

He had also never been shot at, Frank said, an experience that made him angry at the time more than scared.

“I was mad, I didn’t have time to get scared. It was over with in three or four seconds.”

Frank, who is still undergoing physical therapy three times a week for damage to his leg caused by the bullet, which remains lodged in his leg in four pieces, said he’s happy to be back on the job.

“I missed it, honestly, I wanted to get back to work,” he said.

Frank said he deals with good people just as much as bad people on the job. And he knows going to work means he might be on the bad end of a drawn gun at some point.

“That’s just the nature of the beast,” he said.

Frank has spent the last three months at plenty of physical therapy sessions and at home, resting his leg, which Frank said has caused him a little bit of restlessness.

“That big living room turned into a little-bitty room,” the 6-foot-5 deputy said.

After firearms training at the sheriff’s office shooting range on Foster Mound Road, Frank said he patrolled the county and ended his night shift on a calm note during his first day back Wednesday.

“Everybody’s been real welcoming,” Frank said of his return.

In addition to getting back to a normal schedule, Frank said he’s also glad to be back at work for the sake of the other three deputies on his shift, who have been down one man since the June 24 shooting.

“You see the people on your shift more than you see your family most of the time,” Frank said.

The suspect who shot Frank, Kendrick D. Smith, 23, 68-A LaGrange Road, was booked the day of the incident on one count of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and one count of aggravated assault.

Frank and two other deputies had just sat down to eat at KFC on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive, when restaurant employees alerted them to a possible armed suspect near the United Mississippi Bank branch.

Frank said while his training prepared him to slow the suspect by returning fire after he was shot, he has learned something from the experience.

“My awareness level is high right now, especially when I’m eating lunch,” he laughed.