Lawless takes helm of LCSO

Published 11:08 am Monday, January 5, 2009

Lawrence County now has a new sheriff — officially.

Although Jeff Lawless was sworn in at a courthouse ceremony shortly before Christmas with other recently elected officeholders, his term in office didn’t officially begin until midnight Sunday night.

Lawless said one of his chief concerns in the coming days will be a budget.

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“I want to make sure everything is in line and I want to meet with county commissioners and discuss everyone’s expectations,” he said.

The sheriff’s office is one of the largest county departments and one of only a couple that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning it usually commands the biggest piece of the county fiscal pie. He said he believes the commissioners understand the realities of his office and hopes to work closely and amicably with them and is willing to look for ways to save money.

Another concern is a contract for his roughly 47 employees. The sheriff’s office staff is represented by the Fraternal Order of Police and the old contract expired Dec. 31.

One responsibility that is time-sensitive is swearing in each and every office staff member— a requirement under state law. That includes not only road deputies, clerks and dispatchers but also appraisers who are involved in sheriff’s sales and others who perform work as needed for the sheriff’s office.

Lawless said he is also eager to get out in the community and meet the people he has pledged to protect and serve.

“I’m anxious and excited and nervous all at the same time,” Lawless said. “But I will do my best to make sure the county is represented well by the sheriff’s office.”