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Sheriff Buddy East celebrates 46 years serving Lafayette County

F.D. “Buddy” East celebrated being Lafayette County’s Sheriff for 46 years this month, cementing his title as the longest-serving sheriff in the state of Mississippi.

It’s an accolade East said he’s proud of, but not surprised he achieved, because he’s just living his dream.

“This is what I always wanted to do all my life, to be sheriff,” East said. “It’s been a dream come true.”

The 76-year-old East is currently in his twelfth term as sheriff after having started his career in law enforcement in 1964. In 1965, East began working part-time with the Oxford Police Department, eventually being elected as sheriff of Lafayette County in 1972.

Much has changed since East started his career. For example, he said the department had one car and no radio for awhile. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed, he said, is the way he encourages his deputies to treat others.

“No matter what you have or don’t have, how rich or poor you are, black or white, everybody’s a human being. Everybody’s treated right,” he said. “We’ve done that. Right doesn’t have a color or race or anything else. Right is right, and wrong is wrong and the law’s the law.”

During his long tenure as sheriff, East established many programs in Lafayette County, including implementing a 10-man SWAT team and Project Lifesaver, which applies tracking technology for searching and rescuing those with cognitive disorders.

East said law enforcement is “in my blood,” and that his life’s work goes hand-in-hand with his faith in God.

“You’ve got to trust in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, because He’s going to be there with you; always has, always will be,” East said. “I wouldn’t take anything for the experiences I’ve had. The Lord’s truly blessed me.”

While 46 years is nearly enough time for two careers’ worth of experiences, East said he’s not slowing down just yet. There’s an election next year, and he said he’s going to run at least one more time. The longest-serving sheriff in the country, Dwight Radcliff, served 47 years, and East said he’s prepared to surpass that record and keep on going, Lord willing.

“I had a judge tell me once, as long as you’re doing what’s right, and you know it’s right, and as long as you treat your men like you want to be treated and stand your ground, you’ll be alright,” East said.