Prince Edward Sheriff Epps announces he’ll run for a second term

Published 5:54 am Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Prince Edward County Sheriff L.A. “Tony” Epps will run for a second term. Epps was elected Sheriff in November of 2019, winning against two-term incumbent Sheriff Wesley W. Reed. 

Epps stated he has been approached by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, asking if he would consider accepting their nominations. After running and winning as an independent candidate in 2019, he has decided to run again as an independent. He also stated that he must serve all citizens, regardless of their political affiliation. 

Epps joined the Prince Edward Sheriff’s Office in 1987 under Sheriff Gene A. Southall. In 1989, he received his law enforcement training through the Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy in Lynchburg VA. He worked full time as a deputy, investigator, and then Sergeant until 2005, working for Sheriffs Southall and Harris. During his time as an investigator, Epps received Death Investigation training from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also had numerous other Law Enforcement Certifications and training during this time. Tony remained a sworn deputy sheriff until 2012. 

Email newsletter signup

In 2018, Epps was approached by numerous citizens and members of law enforcement asking if he would consider running for Sheriff. After careful consideration, Epps decided to run and on November 5th 2019, Epps was elected Sheriff. He took office on January 1, 2020 as Sheriff. In 2021, Sheriff Epps received the Law Enforcement Executive Certification through the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Each year as Sheriff, he has attended the Virginia Sheriff’s Association Conference and training to keep up to date on new laws and topics relating to the Sheriff’s responsibilities such as lawful employment. Sheriff Epps has 28 years of experience as a sworn Law Enforcement officer in Prince Edward County.

Promises Made, Promises Kept

Since taking office, Epps said, the department has seen positive changes. In 2019, Epps promised to make schools safer and more secure. The “School Safe” program was put in place immediately after taking office. This program puts patrol deputies on the school grounds daily to assist resource officers, while keeping the school’s students and staff safe.

An additional promise that was made and kept shortly after taking office was implementing the K-9 program. The Prince Edward department has one K-9 unit currently in service. A narcotic detecting German Shepherd “Sig” and his handler, Deputy Josh Newcomb, are trained and on the job. The department’s tracking K-9 “Buford”, a bloodhound, was retired when his handler had to undergo knee surgery. Epps says the department plans to replace him soon.

“I promised to implement stiffer drug enforcement. By implementing a narcotic K-9-unit, K-9 handler, and a highly trained and motivated narcotics agent, now a member of the DEA Task Force, we have kept this promise,” Epps added. “In 2022 alone, we seized over $95,000 worth of illegal narcotics in Prince Edward County. This is a very serious problem, and we will continue to fight this war together with all of our neighboring departments and jurisdictions.” 

Another promise Epps said he made was to keep the county clean. 

“We have been busy keeping this promise by issuing summonses and warnings for illegal dumping and littering,” Epps said. “We are working with Piedmont Regional Jail’s Superintendent Townsend and staff weekly, using inmates to pick up roadside litter.”  

The promise was also made to attend and interact at community programs to increase citizen/deputy relationships and trust. 

“We are doing just that,” Epps said,”supporting many different organizations and participating in community events regularly. Not only do we have a good relationship within our community, but also with our neighboring law enforcement agencies and Fire/Rescue organizations. The Sheriff’s Office also participates in National Night Out as well as the DEA drug take back program to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs.”  

Sheriff Epps reflects

“Since taking office, our department has been working very hard to advance our agency forward in the right direction,” Epps said. “The accreditation files needed a lot of work when I took office, so I decided not to ask to be re-accredited. Once we have the program where we need it to be, we will once again ask to be accredited. I have no doubt that this will happen very soon.”  

Epps added the department now has Mobile Data Terminals (in car computers) in all of their patrol cars. The computers allow officers to enter and search information while handling calls. Also, deputies are able to type reports in their car, which saves them a trip back to the office and allows them to remain out in the county available to respond to calls. Body cameras are also now worn by all field deputies. The body worn cameras allow for transparency and accountability while handling calls for service. 

He added the department has enrolled numerous deputies in Crisis Intervention Training courses. This training helps deputies prepare to handle calls involving subjects that may be experiencing a mental health crisis. They also have numerous deputies certified to teach C.I.T. courses. 

Looking at salaries

Epps also pointed to his efforts to improve salaries at the department. 

“Since taking office in 2020, I have worked hard to get our deputies and dispatchers raises and bonuses,” Epps said. “I have worked with the county Board of Supervisors and County Administrator, Doug Stanley, to lower the cost of healthcare plans. When I took office, a family healthcare plan was nearly $1250 per month, per employee. This plan now costs $650, which is almost half-price! We were also able to raise starting salaries for deputies and dispatchers in order to be more competitive. All of these productive changes have been implemented while staying well within our annual budget.”  

More about Sheriff Epps

L.A. “Tony” Epps was born in Farmville to Buck and Jean Epps who were sharecroppers in the Rice community. His first job, at the age of 6, was driving a tractor with a buggy on the tobacco farm. He drove the tractor while others pulled tobacco leaves and placed them on the buggy to be taken to a barn and hung to dry. It wasn’t long before Tony was pulling tobacco leaves himself. He has fond memories of this hard laborious work. 

Tony married Paige Southall in 1990. Together they had 3 sons. Paige unexpectedly passed away in 2013, leaving Tony to raise the 3 boys, Jacob, Josh, and Jack. 

Jacob, his oldest son, graduated from Fuqua School in 2013, he is now employed within Longwood University’s Information Technology Department. His middle son, Josh, is a 2023 graduate of Prince Edward County High School and plans to attend Southside Virginia Community College.  Tony’s youngest son, Jack, is a rising senior at Prince Edward County High School. After graduation, Jack plans to further his education, studying Information Technology. 

Tony now resides in Rice. He is engaged to Alisa Banton, also of Rice. 

“It was a great honor to be elected by the citizens of Prince Edward County to be their Sheriff”, says Epps. “It was an efficient first term, even dealing with Covid-19, we managed to move forward and get the job done”.