Sheriff Gary Parsons, Longest Sitting Sheriff In Lee County History
Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons, was recently elected and sworn in December 3rd, 2019, for the 7th time as Sheriff of Lee County, becoming the longest sitting Sheriff in Lee County history. He now becomes the 5th sitting Sheriff out of 123 in Virginia. Graduating in 1983 from Keokee High School and four years later from what was then, Clinch Valley College, now University of Virginia at Wise. That same year he was hired by Sheriff R.V. Chadwell as road officer. In 1988 he completed his law enforcement certification training and in 1991 he went back to college at Mountain Empire Community College for an Associate’s Degree in Applied Police Science. He quickly moved up the ranks and was promoted to investigator. Upon the untimely death of Sheriff Chadwell in 1996, he was appointed Sheriff and then elected in 1997.
Sheriff Parsons has continued to educate himself through state and national trainings throughout his 32 years of law enforcement tenure. He has been recognized and awarded numerous accolades, from the U. S. Marshal’s Service, Department of Criminal Justice Services and most notably his work with the United State Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms division. In 2001, Sheriff Parsons and his Office were recognized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for partnering with ATF, to utilize the kingpin statute for Oxycontin distribution which led to more than 100 arrests.
Shortly after taking office, Sheriff Parsons applied for and received grant funding for two new positions for victims of crime. The first in 1998 for a Victim/Witness Director and the second in 1999 for a Domestic Violence Officer. The Sheriff applied for a grant to hire Lee County’s first School Resource Officer. He also obtained grant funding from DMV for officers to conduct checkpoints and patrols to combat drunk driving.
Sheriff Parsons also began many other programs since elected into office. TRIAD/SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together), Project Lifesaver, Neighborhood Watch, Crime Prevention Program, A.M.B.E.R Alert for missing children, Anonymous tip line, Sheriff’s Office website , Sheriff’s Office Face book page, and D.A.N.G.E.R, Drugs and Anger management program. He also continued the following programs; Daily elderly checks, Church and Businesses nightly check, funeral escorts, inmate garbage pickup, child fingerprinting and implemented the shop with a cop program. Sheriff Parsons also holds an annual golf tournament with proceeds used for crime prevention programs. Parsons worked with other Sheriffs to form the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority opening regional jails in three locations. Parsons collaborated with local and state officials to implement Emergency 9-1-1 throughout the County. Volunteering countless hours for cemetery clean ups, participating in community functions, and he attends both in and after school activities, county wide.
After Parsons took office, in addition to the officers service weapons, they are now carrying pepper spray, asp baton, body camera, and a tazer. Every officer now has their own vehicle, unlike years ago, when officers shared a car, making it on the road 24 hours a day. In the last four years, the Sheriff worked with the Board of Supervisors to upgrade radio communication from analog to digital communications. Laptops are also in police cars with county mapping accessibility and E911 connectivity. Parsons also has included the use of “drug dogs” by various officers over the years.
Because of the positive changes to Lee County Sheriff’s Office, during Parsons’ tenure, a quicker, more informed response to emergencies has resulted. The end result is a safer County for citizens to live and raise their families in.