PHOTO: Sheriff Dusty Rhodes takes the oath as Williamson County’s new sheriff next to his wife, Lynn, in Franklin Monday night. // Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
Dusty Rhodes, who has served with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office for 40 years, was appointed by the County Commission Monday night to serve as the new interim county sheriff.
Rhodes will serve as county sheriff until the 2020 general election, during which he has stated his intentions to run again.
Alfred Nations, who has served as a sheriff’s deputy for 15 years, had also sought the position of interim sheriff. He cited stopping drug use and boosting of sheriff’s office staff morale as some of his main platforms. Ultimately, the County Commission voted for Rhodes to serve in the position with a vote of 22 – 1. One commissioner abstained from voting.
The position of county sheriff has been left open since January, when former-sheriff Jeff Long resigned after being appointed to serve in Gov. Bill Lee’s administration as the state’s Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security.
During his decades of service to the county sheriff’s office, Rhodes has served under five different sheriffs. For the two most recent years, he was acting chief deputy. He has seen the sheriff’s office grow from 20 people in 1979 to more than 360 in 2019, and has been described as instrumental in many of the office’s achievements over the last few decades.
Something Rhodes called his number-one priority was school safety.
“I think we have a great team of investigators that are working on every threat that comes to a school,” Rhodes said. “When we get information regarding a threat to a school, we’re on it. We take every threat serious — I don’t care if it’s a first grader [who] said ‘I’m going to kill you,’ to an actual threat — we take it all serious.”
Rhodes also shared his experience to the commission of being instrumental in the sheriff’s office adopting cameras for patrol vehicles, adopting less-than-lethal force options, as well as the creation of the Detention Training Academy. The training facility is for all county sheriff’s deputies, and one of only six of its kind in the state.
“During my career, I’ve worked for five different sheriffs. I was chief deputy for the last two, and I don’t think these guys kept me around for my good looks,” Rhodes said. “I think, fortunately, they saw in me that I had respect for my employees, and I had the respect of the people that I work for in the county. I love this county, I love the sheriff’s office, and I love serving the citizens of this county.”
The winner of the county sheriff position in the 2020 general election will serve out Long’s remaining two-year term. The winner of the 2022 election will begin a regular four-year term.