Longtime Sheriff Zeman is retiring

Sheriff Shannon Zeman
Sheriff Shannon Zeman

The Floyd Press this morning confirms a story that has been circulating to some in the country:  Sheriff Shannon Zeman is retiring when his current term expires at the end of next year.

Editor Wanda Combs interviewed Zeman this week and provides an excellant report on the Sheriff’s decision to end his long and successful tenure in the job.

Zeman told Sheriff’s Department employees at their Christmas Party earlier this month about is plans to retire.

Reports coming out of the Sheriff’s Department say at least a couple of deputies are considering runs for the job.

Zeman has built a strong, effective sheriff’s department against long odds — facing budget restrictions, increases in crime, especially the epidemic of production and use of crystal methamphetamine and robberies driven by both drug use and economic hard times.

His planned departure follows an announcement by chief investigator Jeff Dalton to retire to pursue his pastor’s duties at Slate Mountain Church.  Other retirements, we are told, may be coming as well.

Zeman has struggled with a low salary structure that has driven some deputies to better paying jobs with nearby police agencies, including the Virginia State Police.

Zeman, a Republican, came under fire from some in his party before the elections in November because he appeared in a television ad supporting Democrat incumbent Senator Mark Warner for re-election.

Some approached Floyd Countian Doug Weddle, now a Christiansburg policeman, to run against Zeman in next year’s GOP primary.  Zeman says he made his decision to retire before that brouhaha and did not affect his decision and several GOP leaders in the county told me they wanted Zeman to remain as sheriff and had no problem with his actions supporting Warner.

As one who has been around and worked with police agencies around the country and the world, I have found the Floyd department under Zeman’s leadership id both dedicated and professional.

County residents had every reason to feel safer in their lives in Floyd and they will feel the loss of the sheriff who built the department to its current and respected level.

For me, he was a good sheriff, a great resource and a good friend. He is also a fellow Harley rider so I look for more time to spend with him on the road, along with Jeff Dalton.

Zeman’s announcement also comes shortly after the loss of Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Murray Shortt,  She had to step down to accept an appointment as a juvenile and domestic relations judge.

Local elections in Floyd will be interesting next fall.  An escalating number of candidates are lining up to run for Sheriff, Commonwealth’s Attorney and Little River Supervisor, where Virgel Allen is retiring.

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