OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - There will be moving pieces in law enforcement in Lafayette County as a result of Tuesday’s elections in Mississippi. Voters chose Oxford Police Department Chief Joey East to serve now as Lafayette County Sheriff. It’s a job his father held for decades.
“I was just overwhelmed with emotion. Excited, humbled more than anything,” said Joey East.
Joey East said he spent the time since the returns came in Tuesday night telling Lafayette County voters thank you. He beat his challenger Jeff South by earning nearly 82 percent of the vote in the sheriff’s race.
It’s a job that’s familiar turf for East. His father Buddy died last fall and served as Lafayette County Sheriff for 46 years.
“Once he passed away, it was a very tough decision,” he said, “I had a lot of calls. It was something I’d worked to do my whole life, and it was going to be something to do with him and him helping me.”
Joey East has been Oxford Police Chief for six years and took a leave of absence earlier this year when he decided to enter the sheriff’s race.
“Right now, I just want to go in and sit there and learn,” he said.
East told WMC Action News 5 it’s too soon to talk about specific changes he might bring to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, but he notes technological improvements are likely and points to growth in the Oxford area as signs law enforcement needs to evolve.
“We are one of the fastest growing in the state of Mississippi right now, and there’s a lot of challenges that come with that,” he said.
As for how his father would take his victory, East said he knows he’s pleased.
“I think he’s smiling, without a doubt. I think he’s proud,” he said.
East told WMC Action News 5 he still has to discuss his transition from OPD with city leaders. He’ll be sworn in as sheriff in January 2020.