Special to The Chronicle
Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe announced Tuesday afternoon he would be stepping down from that position after 30 years to serve as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association.
Ashe and TSA President and Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews and outgoing President and Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long made the announcement in a press conference held at the TSA’s office in Lebanon.
“It’s a sad time to announce to people that I love that I won’t be their Sheriff anymore,” Ashe said. “This is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made as a career decision.”
The TSA is a non-profit organization founded by sheriffs statewide in 1971 to promote better and more effective law enforcement. Ashe said the organization has a huge impact on the state and has supported many pieces of legislation for tougher penalties for child sex offenders, repeated DUI offenders and more.
Ashe was first elected Sheriff in 1982 and began his career in law enforcement as a part-time reserve deputy in 1972 and then moved to full-time in 1974. He also served as Chief of Detectives with the Lebanon Police Department, prior to his election as Sheriff.
During the press conference, Ashe said he was humbled by being chosen as the TSA’s new executive director. He formerly served as the organization’s President from 1985 until 1994.
“He is so trusted by his peers and honest, that a vote behind closed doors was unanimous,” Andrews said, referring to the vote by the TSA Board of Directors.
Long said the vote was held three to four months ago, but Ashe asked the TSA to hold the announcement until the county concluded its budget process. Ashe said he wanted to finish the process and see the Sheriff’s Department had the funding it needed.
Ashe said he felt good about the state of the department and said Assistant Chief Deputy Robert Bryan will serve as interim Sheriff. Ashe noted his last day in office would be Sept. 30 and Bryan would take over the job on Oct. 1.
“I’ve prayed about this a lot. I’m honored to get this job,” Ashe said. “When your peers select you, like when voters do, it’s a very humbling experience.”
Long said the decision to name Ashe executive director was an “easy one.” Williams said when he became Sheriff in 2002 Ashe was one of the TSA members he looked to as an example.
“Sheriff Ashe is one of those people I listened to when he spoke,” Williams said. “He has proven himself across Tennessee.”
Ashe noted, “If I’ve been a good Sheriff it’s because I had good employees.” During his tenure, Ashe said he was most proud of the department’s Senior Citizens Awareness Network, or SCAN program, and the fact that Wilson County was one of the first counties in Tennessee to start a Student Resource Officer program at local schools.
“I’m probably the proudest I’ve still got my sanity,” he laughed. “This is the next page of my life being turned, so to speak.”
Ashe indicated long-time Chief Deputy Larry Bowman was not interested in serving as interim Sheriff and said Bryan would do a great job running the department. Ashe said Wilson County Commission would choose an interim Sheriff when it meets in October and could select to keep Bryan in that position.
“Wilson County will miss Sheriff Ashe, but the state of Tennessee will reap those rewards,” Long said.
Ashe said serving with the TSA will allow him to remain in law enforcement and continue to help the officers and victims around the state. He said the TSA does a lot of work training and assisting Sheriff’s Departments and aiding victims of crimes through legislation.
Wilson County citizens will elect a new Sheriff for the first time in three decades in August 2014.
Wilson Post Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at email@example.com.