Panola County Sheriff's Department
Gray Nickels says he has always known working in law enforcement was the path he was meant to take, citing his father's career as a deputy sheriff to be a great influence in his life.
So in 2003 he joined the Batesville Police Department, starting as a patrol officer and later rising to Sergeant.
During his eight years there, Gray also became a firearms instructor and he taught weapons certification courses to all incoming officers.
His skill in this area led the department to make him one of only two certified snipers, to be called to the scenes of hostage situations.
In 2008, Gray Nickels was named Officer of the Year by the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Association
for stopping a stabbing suspect and administering first aid to the man's two victims. The mother and son both survived, and Gray continues today to keep in touch with the family and act as a mentor to the teen.
As a patrol officer, Gray repeatedly encountered the violent effects drug trafficking had on his community, so he decided to pursue his passion of getting drugs off the street.
He joined the Panola County Sheriff's Department in August 2010, where he is currently a narcotics investigator.
He works with an undercover task force to locate active drug dealers and apprehend them. Gray's commander, Mark Whittem, describes him as a hardworking agent, saying Gray always "steps up to the plate and makes things happen" during investigations.
Likewise, Batesville Police Captain Jimmy McCloud calls Gray a "very dependable, trustworthy" person, and that throughout his career he has been widely regarded in high esteem by his community.