BOTETOURT Co., Va. – The coming days in 2019 will be a change for many, including Botetourt County Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle. This year is his 20th year as sheriff and he recently announced it will be his last.
Sheriff Sprinkle said although it was a complex decision to make, the reasoning behind it was simple. He's in good health, good standing and he's confident he could win another term. But, as the old adage goes, when you know, you know, and he said right now, he knows.
From behind the desk of the public safety building he helped make happen, Sprinkle has decided to hand over the badge at the end of the year.
"I thought about it three years ago, it's been on my mind for this last term and I guess about a month ago I made up my mind that I wouldn't seek re-election this time," Sprinkle said.
Sprinkle's father was the county sheriff for 30 years, taking the helm when the junior Sprinkle was six months old and retiring in 1991, before Ronnie won the seat in 1999. Save for those eight years in between, it will be the first time since the heart of the Vietnam War that a Sprinkle is not top cop, and the junior Sprinkle says it's time to move on.
"It's certainly harder to hire people to come to this profession, technology has changed so much over the last 20 years with body cameras and the expense of keeping up with the technology," Sprinkle said.
Morale and technology in law enforcement are factors in departments all across the country. But explosive growth is unique to Botetourt County and will be a factor to wrestle with in the coming years.
"It's going to be a challenge, whoever succeeds me will need to be able to keep the resources here to run the department effectively," Sprinkle said.
As a lifelong resident of the county, Srpinkle expects the growth to continue as more people find out about the place he calls a great home. Looking back, he's grateful to have played a small part in it.
"We just appreciate all (the residents of the county) have done for our family throughout the years to allow us to be sheriff of their county," Sprinkle said.
As of right now, there's just one name in the running to replace Sprinkle. Mike Vineyard, a retired officer from Roanoke City, announced his intentions to run for the position on his Facebook in fall 2017. Sprinkle will serve out the remainder of his term and voters go to the polls in November.
Sprinkle and his wife have an adult daughter and many family members in the area. He expects to stay in the county after retirement, but also said he never knows what tomorrow may bring.