A new contender tosses her hat in the ring for open Washington County, Tenn. sheriff position

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Current Washington County Sherriff’s Office Chief Deputy Leighta Laitinen has announced her bid for the open seat of Washington County sheriff.

The role of Washinton County sheriff opened after longtime Sheriff Ed Graybeal retired in August.

As second in command, Laitinen has taken the role of acting sheriff since Graybeal’s retirement.

One point that she is running on is making changes to the job role of Graybeal’s son Eddie Graybeal who currently works for the department in the jail.

Eddie Graybeal previously lost his officer certification after he assaulted an inmate.

“Our history has been, in the past, that we terminate an employee when they’re charged with a crime and had I been sheriff, I would’ve done the same thing and he would’ve been treated the same way as everyone else,” stated Laitinen.

She also emphasized increasing officer recruitment efforts to fix staffing issues.

“Like all law enforcement agencies across the country, we are short-staffed,” Laitinen said. “I think that would be my number one priority is to work on ways to recruit and retain more officers for both the jail and the road.”

According to a release from Laitinen, the detention center in Washington County that houses 550-600 inmates is the largest liability currently. Laitinen says that she is the only candidate with the necessary experience and to protect the inmates and manage the facility.

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