Sheriff’s Department retirees will be missed

Retiring chief investigator Jeff Dalton who moves on to full-time duties as a minister. (All photos by Doug Thompson)
Retiring chief investigator Jeff Dalton who moves on to full-time duties as a minister. (All photos by Doug Thompson)

Three members of Floyd County’s sheriff’s department retire at the end of this year.

Sheriff Shannon Zeman is stepping down and looking forward for retirement after three terms in the top job and 27 years with the department.  He is joined by chief investigator and longtime friend Jeff Dalton who will concentrate full-time as pastor of Slate Mountain Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  Deputy Robert Davis is also retiring.

At the department’s Christmas Party Tuesday night at the Community Room of The Bank of Floyd, Zeman got a Virginia Tech rocking chair “to relax in his retirement,” enjoyed other gifts and hanked deputies, other department personnel and the community for help and support over the years.

Dalton said that, contrary to rumors, he is retiring completely and fully from law enforcement and will minister to the Slate Mountain congregation and ride his Harley-Davidson.

“My phone will have a message on it,” he said.  “If you are calling about police matters, hang up and call 911.”

Zeman and Dalton were forces in the growth and expansion of the department at a time when Floyd began facing more crime and the escalation of the highly-addictive drug crystal methamphetamine that became an epidemic in the county and other parts of Southwestern Virginia.  Both worked to develop education and support programs to try and deal with the problem.

Retiring Sheriff Shannon Zeman and a rocking chair where he can spend part of the time.
Retiring Sheriff Shannon Zeman and a rocking chair where he can spend part of the time.

As a longtime newspaperman and photographer who has worked around the nation and world over the past 50 years I was pleased to see the professionalism and abilities of the Floyd County Department when I returned to the area in 2004.  They are a well-respected department under the tutelage of Zeman and I’m sure it will grow and achieve much under the leadership of Craig.

Both the sheriff and investigator Dalton understood that, at times, I had to report on problems and situations that were not pleasant but were part of my job, just as the difficult aspects of police work were theirs.  Both are friends and fellow motorcycle riders and I look forward to spending time with them on the road in the coming years.

Dalton is also minister of the church of my grandparents, who were founding members, and my mother and he officiated at her funeral in 2012 and was also at my bedside when I struggled to overcome life-threatening injuries from a motorcycle crash later that year.  We disagree, as friends, with some points of religious belief but we still respect each other.

Amy and I wish the retiring officers the best in whatever they do in the coming years and a Merry Christmas.

Retiring deputy Robert at the department's Christmas party.
Retiring deputy Robert Davis at the department’s Christmas party.
Firearms safety instructor Jim Connor mistakes Zeman for Santa Claus?
Firearms safety instructor Jim Connor mistakes Zeman for Santa Claus?

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