Retired THP trooper to face off with Mathes for Carter Co. sheriff

John Thompson • Apr 29, 2014 at 4:43 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Dexter Lunceford announced Wednesday that he will be a candidate for Carter County sheriff in the spring Republican primary.

Lunceford, 56, is a retired trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. His 30-year law enforcement career began with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, and he also served in the Johnson City Police Department before he joined the Highway Patrol. He retired in August 2012.

Lunceford also served in the U.S. Marine Corps on active duty from 1976-1979.

“I will be visible and accessible to the citizens of Carter County,” Lunceford said.

One of his major points is to reduce the costs of the operation of the sheriff’s department.

“We can reduce the costs with the cooperation of the other county officials,” Lunceford said. “Right now, 87 cents out of the $2.33 property tax rate is going to the sheriff’s department. I don’t think we need more money, we just need better management than what we have.”

He said one way to reduce costs is to reduce the jail population by at least 20 percent by using alternative-sentencing programs.

He also said the school resource officer program could be run more cheaply.

“There are ways of saving money, if you can get people to set down around the table and talk,” Lunceford said.

He praised the deputies who serve in the department.

“There are a lot of good men and women working in this department,” Lunceford said.

Lunceford also said, “I will operate within the budget approved by the (County) Commission and will not file suit against the citizens of Carter County.”

Sheriff Chris Mathes said he welcomed the challenge from Lunceford and he had been expecting his announcement. Mathes said he intends to run for a third term as sheriff and said he will hold his announcement soon.

Lunceford is a native of the Fish Springs community and graduated from Hampton High School. He has been married for the past 27 years to the former Pamela Grindstaff, and they have two daughters, Tessa and Jessica.

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