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Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller proudly displays the Sheriff of the Year plaque he received from the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association while accompanied by coworkers Chief Deputy Brent Perry, from left, Administrative Assistant Jennifer Housley and Sgt. Seth Isbell.

Franklin County’s Tim Fuller is well-known in law-enforcement circles, serving as the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association’s legislative committee chairman, and he was duly recognized for his efforts on Aug. 1 by being selected as the organization’s Sheriff of the Year.

Fuller said he was totally unaware of the accolades until the announcement was made at the association’s annual summer conference on Aug. 1 at the Sevierville Convention Center in Sevierville.

“It’s always a surprise when something like that happens,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about it until the announcement was made.”

Fuller said being named Sheriff of the Year is truly an honor and ranks as one of the highest acknowledgements he’s ever received.

Franklin County Mayor David Alexander said Fuller being selected for the great honor speaks very highly of the sheriff’s contributions to the local area through his law enforcement efforts and beyond.

“It is quite an honor for a Franklin Countian to be Sheriff of the Year,” he said. “We are very fortunate to have somebody from the Sheriff’s Association who recognizes how well he does his job.

“It speaks highly of the county.”

Fuller said the announcement comes in the wake of one of his most difficult years with the organization.

He said two key leadership positions were vacant which meant others had to pick up the slack to ensure the organization’s presence at the state-government level was maintained.

“This has been one turbulent year, and the circumstances put a load on me,” he said, adding that it makes the plaque he has received all the more meaningful.

Fuller said reaching the Sheriff of the Year grade means for those who earn it their peers have taken special notice of the contributions made to the law enforcement community.

 “I’m proud to be in that group. That’s all I can say,” he said.

Fuller highlighted the key accomplishments the association has made in a message to members.

“The Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association has had a very active year in the General Assembly,” he said. “The Tennessee Public Safety Coalition has proven once again strong in helping pass legislation that makes Tennessee a safer state.”

He added that, in the past year, with strong support from sheriffs, chiefs of police, Tennessee Department of Safety and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation personnel and the district attorney generals, the association was able to keep drug-enforcement and criminal-investigation legislation strong and at the forefront while maintaining strong penalties for criminals who commit crimes against other Tennesseans.

Fuller said that with the help of association members and with assistance from support organizations and legislators, a death benefit for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty was passed along with benefits to help their family members.

“These were complex bills that were supported by so many along with the strong support of (former) Gov. Bill Haslam,” he said.

Fuller said the 2019 General Assembly’s session was filled with challenges, and the organization’s work at the state level will be ongoing.

“As sheriffs, we see every day the increasing problems of drug addiction in our state,” he said. “The influx of heroin, fentanyl and the opioid crisis are issues we cannot continue to push to the back burner.

“One only has to turn to the state of Colorado to see the horror of unrestricted drug abuse and how the traffic deaths, healthcare costs and driving-impaired cases have risen,” Fuller said. “We can do better in Tennessee, and we must.”

He said Tennessee sheriffs also feel the state’s mental health crisis needs to be addressed on the front end to reduce jail numbers when alternatives might have prevented the incarceration of some.

 “The challenges are great, the work ahead will be hard, but the sheriffs in Tennessee are up for the task,” he said.