GATE CITY — After serving eight years and three terms, Scott County Sheriff John Puckett has decided to retire.
Puckett made the announcement during Wednesday’s meeting of the Scott County Board of Supervisors. His retirement will be effective March 1, and Chief Deputy Chris Holder — the highest-ranking deputy in the department — will serve as interim sheriff through the general election in November.
“It’s been pretty tough, but I’ll say this: I worked in 24 counties in Virginia and some in other states, like in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and if you look at it right now, I’d say this is the time to go out,” Puckett said. “It’s the best sheriff’s office I’ve ever seen in the state of Virginia. With the number of arrests they make, as hard as they work, investigations they do, it’s the best I’ve ever seen, so I think it’s time to go out on a high note.”
Puckett said many improvements were made in the Scott County Sheriff’s Department during his tenure, including:
• Establishing four work zones in the county to ensure faster response times;
• Starting Project Lifesaver to help locate missing individuals with cognitive impairments;
• Starting the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, the first county in the state to do so;
• Moving to a new and improved building;
• Improving courthouse security;
• Increasing the number of school resource officers from one to five;
• Purchasing five new vehicles;
• Installing radar in all patrol vehicles;
• Building a shooting range;
• Securing new equipment for officers, including new handguns with night sights and flashlights, new bulletproof vests, body cameras, rifles and Tasers; and
• Purchasing ThugFindIRs, which include thermal imaging cameras that assist officers with building searches in the dark.
Each member of the BOS commended Puckett for his career in law enforcement, which the sheriff said spanned 46 years of 12-hour days.
As for his retirement plans, Puckett said one of his top priorities is to spend more time with his grandchildren.
“You’ve done the county an excellent service,” BOS member David Redwine told Puckett, “and I think the people who you’re out there protecting really appreciate the job you’ve done in your office.”