“Be good.” That was how Melvin Richardson liked to end conversations – a friendly exhortation which also reflected his worldview. “He would always give you the shirt off his back,” his wife, Jennifer Richardson, recalls.
That attitude, oriented toward helping others, led him to law enforcement at an early age: When he was in high school he would seek out ride-alongs with troopers or deputies.
Sure enough, he joined the Auburn, Nebraska police department in 2007 after graduating from the Police Academy. After five years there and a stint with the Sidney, Iowa police, he moved to the Fremont County, Iowa Sheriff’s Department in August 2015.
He enjoyed the interpersonal aspects of the job. He loved mentoring and training the younger officers. “They were like little brothers to us,” Jennifer says. “They are all very much like family to us.”
Melvin’s immediate family, Jennifer and their daughters, Bryxtol, Cheyenne and Everly, were the center of his life. “Adrenaline junkies,” as Jennifer puts it, they loved the rodeo, especially the bull-riding. Melvin and Jennifer had been inseparable friends before dating and then married in 2017. They bought a farmhouse where Melvin’s 21 chickens were his pride and joy. He delighted in teaching the girls how to raise them and about animals. He and Jennifer’s father built a coop so big that the family jokingly called it the Taj Mahal.
On June 14, 2022, Richardson was driving on Highway 275 when his Chevy Tahoe collided with a harvesting combine traveling in the other direction. He died from his injuries.
He had long tried to forge close bonds between the Fremont and Mills County sheriff’s departments. Officers would often start in Fremont and move on to Mills, so he had trained almost everyone in both. Those close relations are his legacy.
“We all have a remarkable bond after this obviously terrible event,” Jennifer says. “All of us wives and kids are constantly hanging out with each other all the time.”