DOBSON — Surry County’s next sheriff knows who will fill his shoes as the next chief deputy in the department.
“He’s been my right-hand man,” said Surry County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jimmy Combs of Lieutenant Lauren Osborne.
On Tuesday evening the Surry County Democratic Executive Committee voted unanimously to recommend Combs fill the unexpired term of Sheriff Graham Atkinson.
In March Atkinson announced his last day on the job will be Friday. He accepted a gubernatorial appointment to the state’s Post-Release and Parole Commission.
On Friday the Surry County Board of Commissioners will officially name Combs the sheriff. However, the board is bound by statute to appoint the person recommended by the party.
Combs, who has served in the chief deputy role for nearly 15 years, announced that Osborne will become the office’s new chief deputy on Friday after Combs is sworn in as sheriff.
The incoming sheriff said Osborne brings a broad range of experience to the table. He currently handles the coordination of all training in the department, ensuring deputies continue to meet mandated requirements. He also has oversight of the department’s administrative functions.
Combs added that Osborne is heavily involved with preparing the budget for the department. He once oversaw the office’s patrol division, and he also had oversight of internal affairs.
“My ultimate goal was to have a role in administration,” said Osborne, who called the promotion a big step in his career.
Osborne’s story is one which starts at the bottom rung of the ladder.
He said after working for the Elkin Police Department for about a year, he was hired as a desk clerk — a sworn officer position which has since been eliminated — at the sheriff’s office in 1992. Soon thereafter, he made the move to the patrol division.
In 2000, Osborne was elevated to patrol sergeant, and he became patrol lieutenant in 2005. After Atkinson was elected sheriff in 2006, he made Osborne the training and administration lieutenant. He has also served on the county’s special enforcement team — the equivalent of a S.W.A.T. team — since 1995, and he has led the team since 2005.
Osborne said he is thankful for the opportunity, and he believes he can bring a lot of good experience to the position. However, the bar has been set high by his predecessor.
“It’ll take a lot to fill those shoes,” said Osborne of Combs. “He really is a great administrator and an awesome leader.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.