Les Tannehill was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and moved to Terry, Mississippi when he was 5 years old. He attended school at Terry Elementary, Terry Junior High and later graduated from Terry Academy. Les was in the Boy Scouts and served as the troop leader. He played basketball and football and his senior was chosen all-conference defensive end in their football division. Les graduated as a member of the BETA Club and his junior year was nominated and chosen to join the national organization, Who’s Who Among Outstanding American High School Student for his church work, youth fellowship, community involvement, academic, 4-H and sports. This is an organization that represents 2 ½% of the 6,000,000 students enrolled in the junior and senior classes of the nation’s high schools.
Les and his family have always had dogs, cats, horses, etc., and he worked on a horse ranch in Terry from the age of 15 until he was 18. It was always his dream to be a veterinarian, but God had other plans for Les, plans for Les to serve Him by serving mankind through law enforcement.
In 1978 Les started that journey when he joined the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department under then-sheriff J. D. McAdory and working part-time with the Terry Police Department. In 1980 the Jackson Police Department was the place to be so Les applied and was accepted to the Jackson Police Department’s training academy. After sixteen weeks of a rigorous training course and starting with thirty-six recruits, on December 19, 1980, with only 19 recruits left standing Les Tannehill took his oath of office finishing 8th out of his class.
In 1989 after a long and expensive court battle, Les received sole custody of his two (2) year old daughter, whom he raised as a single father until she was grown. In 1990 after a shift dispute with an interim chief who was moving Les from a day shift to an evening shift, along with other officers, Les resigned from JPD because the evening shift would not allow Les to properly care for his infant daughter whom Les has always put first and foremost above himself.
The following year, when Malcolm Mcmillin was elected sheriff, Les went back to work for the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department where he worked in the jail and took a jail operations course. While at HCSO Les worked in warrants, the patrol division, formed the Flex Unit, formed the Intelligence Division, worked in Investigations as an investigator, a sergeant, and then a lieutenant. Les also worked on Federal Taskforce with the FBI, ATF and the US Marshal Service. During his career, he was honored and humbled to receive ten Officer of the Year awards and sixty-one written accommodations. After leaving the HCSO Les started his on company Affirmative Investigations and Security where he now works closely with the youth on different summer camps and events where his company provides security.
One of the highlights of Les’ private investigator career was when he had the privilege of working with Barry Scheck’s Office in New York on an Innocence Project Case. This case involved three black males who, in 1980, were wrongfully convicted of a rape and murder they didn’t commit. They were beaten unmercifully in attempts to get a confession. The men were cleared in 2010 by DNA evidence but unfortunately one of them died in prison and the other two had developed stage four cancer. Les was able to locate witnesses from that time era that ensured that the exonerated men received justice through compensation to their families. (Click here for more details about the case.)
During his interview, Les had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Vernon Dahmer’s sons. Les has always been intent on seeing to it all are treated fairly and receive justice.
Les has also been a volunteer with Horses for Handicapped for over 35 years. This is an organization that holds an annual event at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds where disabled and handicapped people of all ages from all walks of life can come and ride a horse among the many activities they offer. For many of these children, without the Horses for Handicapped organization, they would never have the opportunity to experience interacting with horses and other farm animals.