Virginia county's longest-serving sheriff reflects on his career

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WISE COUNTY, Va. (WYMT) - On Feb. 6 1972, a Virginia State Police trooper was shot in the line-of-duty.

Ronnie Oakes was that trooper, and now, he is Wise County, Virginia's longest-serving sheriff.

"I am just so proud to have been elected six times here in Wise County," Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said. "It's my goal to be the best that we can be."

Oakes took office in 1996 after serving for 27 years as a trooper with Virginia State Police. It was there where Oakes was shot in the back of the head.

"I will never forget them taking me into the emergency room and the doctors saying we have to do emergency surgery quick," he said.

Thomas Wright worked for Kentucky State Police and helped arrest the suspects who were escaped inmates.

The pair was found in a home in Kentucky in what was a hostage situation. Wright said he will never forget going up to the home.

"I swore something was wrong, so I wrote in my hand, if they are here ... move your foot," Wright said.

Oakes was out of work for seven months. His vision was impaired and he worried he would never make it back to law enforcement.

"God took care of me," Oakes said. "It wasn't my time to go out. I give him thanks every day for taking care of me during that time."

Years later and Ronnie Oakes is still doing what he loves.

One of his biggest accomplishments is obtaining and keeping state accreditation for the sheriff's office.

Oakes said it is a team effort and what makes him most proud is his staff.

"I would like to have a legacy where people would say he always treated his staff and citizens in the county like he would like to be treated himself," he said.

Ronnie Oakes has more than 40 years of experience in law enforcement and hopes to have many more.

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