Panola Co. sheriff announces retirement, commission appoints first female sheriff as interim

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In this June 19, 2020 photo shared by the Panola County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Sheriff Kevin Lake congratulates Criminal Investigation Lieutenant Sarah Fields on her promotion to Captain with the command staff of the sheriff’s office.

PANOLA COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake has announced plans to retire in May after eight years in the job, expressing high confidence and sharing praise for the sheriff’s office captain who will take on his role until the next election.

“I have had a great career, but it’s time to move on and see what the Lord has in store for me,” Lake said Monday afternoon in a post on his personal Facebook page.

“I had full intentions on retiring last year, however, with the tragic death of Deputy Chris Dickerson in late December of 2019, there was no way I could leave with such a heavy dark cloud over our department, so I vowed to give it at least another year for us to start recovering. That time has come.”

Deputy Dickerson was fatally shot on Christmas Eve 2019. His accused killer was captured later that day after a chase and crash in Shreveport, but the case is still making its way through the courts

Lake, who was first appointed to the job in May 2013 following the arrest of former Sheriff Ron Clinton and ran unopposed for re-election November, is now set to retire May 15, 2020. His replacement must be appointed by the county commission, and Lake said the commission accepted his recommendation to appoint Captain Sarah Fields in a meeting Monday morning. Fields will take on the job until a special election can be held, making her the first female sheriff in the county’s history.

“The Sheriff shouldn’t hold the position, or be held back from holding the position as a result of their name, their race, or their sex. It is my belief that Captain Sarah Fields has all the necessary qualities and support to fulfill the duties of Sheriff. I look forward to a smooth transition, and I have promised Captain Fields that I will make myself available to help her in the future in anyway necessary.”

Lake said Fields has over 30 years of experience at the sheriff’s office, the highest certification a peace officer can obtain in the state, and the respect of both the staff and the community.

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