COVINGTON -- Rookie Covington Police officer Bob Yarbrough is proving it's never too late to fulfill your dreams. He's been in uniform as a CPD officer for a little more than a month. He wanted to do it more than 30 years ago.
Yarbrough, 49, had made a career in the transportation logistics industry, but he recently put himself through mandate school and began filling out employment applications to be a policeman.
"It was something I always wanted to do ... I began working in transportation, got married, had kids and had more bills than I knew what to do with," he recalled. "But things have changed in the last few years ... I can change careers and do what I really wanted to do."
Yarbrough, who lives on Jackson Lake and has served one term as a Jasper County commissioner, said he began about 18 months ago to get in shape and prepare himself for mandate school. He went to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth and was surprised he wasn't the oldest one in his class.
"There was a fellow there who was 65. He didn't make the last two weeks, but he said he was going back and from what I heard, he did go back," he said.
Yarbrough admitted the school was tough for him.
"Being 49 and trying to act 21 again, it was hard for me," he said. "Your mind's there and you're trying to get your body to catch up to it. It was a great experience, but there were a lot of challenges not only physically but mentally, too."
He came to work at the CPD the week of the ice storm, but was scheduled to be on the gun range that week, so didn't see a lot of road time on the icy roads. He said he's got a lot of friends in law enforcement so he pretty much knew what to expect, but doing things for the first time still gives him pause.
"I get nervous like any other rookie does. Doing the simple things like getting out and doing your first stop or getting out and talking to people ... you think you can do it all day long, but it's kind of different when you're out in uniform for the first time. But, it makes me feel young again," he said with a grin.
He said working for Covington has been a great experience.
"Different officers and other city employees have all told me if there's anything I need to let them know and they'll help me," he said.
Training Officer Ryan Ralston said that Yarbrough is ahead of schedule on his training.
"We have a 10-week-long field training program and we're probably going to get Bob through his entire training phase in about six and a half to seven weeks ... He's above average," Ralston said. "I've seen in Bob a quiet maturity versus a young rookie officer who is fresh out of the academy or high school and college who is out there trying to save the world. Bob knows how to pace himself."
Yarbrough said he's trying to get a taste of all aspects of police work and hasn't made up his mind what he'd like to focus on.
"From what I know right now, I'd like to one day work with K-9 or get into the drug enforcement side of it," he said. "But so far, I'm just trying to feel my way around."