Washington County Sheriff

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Washington County will soon see a changing of the guard. Sheriff Fred Peel is leaving office after holding the top spot for 24 years.

Sheriff Peel's loss in this year's primary election hasn't diminished his quarter century of service.

Next week will be the beginning of a new era in Washington County and outgoing Sheriff Fred Peel says that he's proud of the time he has given to the county and its people.

"I've been sheriff of the county 24 years, which is longer than anyone has served since Florida became a state in 1845 and I take that as a high honor," he says.

During Sheriff Peel's time in office he's seen many changes.

"I think I started with 16 employees in 1977 and now we’re over 70. Had a jail that housed 26 and now we have a jail that houses 160."

He also remembers two of the worst serial killers that this area has seen.

"I interviewed Henry Lucas in Georgetown, Texas and Otis Tool in Tallahassee, two individuals that got a lot of publicity for what they did."

Sheriff Peel was elected to office twice, once in 1977 and again in 1995. He says that he couldn't have put a total of 24 years in as sheriff without the employees that worked for him.

"I think I was very fortunate in the beginning to have some very good people to help me get off on the right foot. I think that's critical with any elected office."

This outgoing sheriff has not announced any desire to run a third time. Instead of taking office again he's looking forward to taking to the golf course.

Under Fred Peel's leadership, the Washington County Sheriff's Office went from being over $100,000 in debt to a surplus of over 250,000. Sheriff-elect Bobby Haddock will take office next Tuesday.