Ronnie Lawson serves as Sheriff, the top law enforcement officer in Hawkins County. He began his law enforcement career in 1977 as a patrolman with the Rogersville Police Department. He was promoted in 1989, becoming the first ever Detective for the R. P. D. In 1990, he accepted the position of Chief Deputy for then Sheriff Wayne Clevinger.
In 1991, Lawson was instrumental in the organization of the Sheriff’s Office Tactical Unit, which still exists today and was expanded when he assumed the office of Sheriff in 2010. Today, it is a multi-agency unit including officers from the cities of Mt. Carmel and Church Hill.
Lawson was again influential in 1996 when he helped organize the Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit, for which the county obtained an OH-58 Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter from the Department of Defense. The unit and chopper successfully eradicated marijuana operations both in Hawkins County and throughout upper East Tennessee. The aircraft served in ground searches, air patrols, and public relations until it was grounded in 2006.
Sheriff Lawson’s career has been extensive. While serving as Chief Deputy for twelve years, he also served two years part-time as Chief of Police for the Town of Bulls Gap. Under former Sheriff Warren Rimer, Lawson served as Chief Detective, and in 2006 was reassigned to the Patrol Division, where he served until being elected Sheriff in 2010.
As Sheriff, Lawson’s responsibilities are vast. His efforts to ensure law enforcement include prevention and investigation of all crimes on persons and property, service of civil and criminal warrants, and patrolling county and state roadways. Lawson is also responsible for administration of the Hawkins County Jail, a T. C. I. certified facility with 43 correctional staff members and a housing capacity of 266. The facility houses misdemeanor and felony prisoners (both sentences and non-sentences). Lawson is also responsible for supervising the workhouse and day work programs, as well as ensuring security for the county courts. He also oversees the Office’s sixty sworn officers who patrol approximately 495 square miles, offering help and protection to the over 60,000 citizens of Hawkins County along with the hundreds of people who travel through the county on a daily basis for work, recreation, and shopping.
Sheriff Ronnie Lawson currently serves on the Board of Directors for Hawkins County Emergency Services and the 911 Central Dispatch Center. He is a member of the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, the Rogersville Shrine Club, and the Fraternal Order of Police – Burgess Mills Post.