County deputies to receive service weapons as retirement gifts

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County deputies will soon get a new gift when they retire instead of a watch — their service weapon.

The change came as a result of a vote in County Commission. They approved it with a unanimous decision. But not without debate.

Commissioner Terry Roland sponsored the resolution to send deputies off in to retirement with their guns — the ones they've used their whole careers.

"They passed it last year in the General Assembly and the new law says with a super majority of the County Commission we can vote to let them have their service weapon upon retirement," Roland said. "Supporting them by giving them service weapon I think is just a common sense decision."

But Commissioner Mark Billingsley tells me he had reservations before voting for it. He says he wanted to make sure retired deputies will have to renew their certification annually.

The guns will also be registered to the individuals rather than the county.

Others we spoke with had concerns too.

"That`s a bad idea," said Norvell Armstrong. "So many guns around, people getting killed for nothing."

But in general, people seem to trust retired law enforcement.

"I think it's what they want," said Marquisha Oliver.

"They had that their entire life. I think they deserve to keep it," Brooke Williams said.

Officials say the gun will replace another gift, the watches that were given to retirees.

"It'll end up costing the same as the watches did, so between $3,000-7,000 in the past," county sheriff's spokesman Earle Farrell said.

Roland said he thinks the change is well worth the switch.

"If you carry a gun for 30 years you wanna keep that gun. You've had that on your side for 30 years."