Sheriff Jeff Long to be named Lee’s safety commissioner

Gov.-elect Bill Lee plans to name Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long as commissioner of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security, a source close to the transition tells The Tennessee Journal.

Long, the Tennessee Sheriff Association’s sheriff of the year of 2013, will succeed David Purkey, who was named safety commissioner in 2016. Purkey, , a former state trooper and mayor of Hamblen County, had previously served as assistant commissioner since 2011.

Long succeeded former Williamson County Sheriff Ricky Headley, who had resigned earlier in 2008 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in Davidson and Williamson counties over fraudulently obtaining prescription pain pills.

Long wrote in a 2017 letter to the editor of The Tennessean that he met Lt. Gov. Rand McNally (R-Oak Ridge) in the opening phases of Operation Rocky Top, in which the lawmaker wore a wire for investigators. “He placed his whole political career in jeopardy by having the strength to stand up for what was right,” Long wrote. “Operation Rocky Top would not have been possible if not for a man of high character and morality as Lt. Governor McNally.”

Long,  a past president of the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis and a law degree from the Nashville School of Law. Before his time as sheriff, Long served as assistant district attorney and as a special agent in charge with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He’s also spent time as an arson investigator with the Tennessee Fire Marshall’s Office and was a federal hospital police officer with the Veterans Administration Hospital in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam appointed  Long to the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission in 2014.

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