- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A longtime county sheriff of one of metro Atlanta’s largest counties announced his retirement Tuesday.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway announced his retirement after more than two decades in the position, news outlets reported. He’s said he won’t run for reelection in November and will finish the remainder of his term.

“I didn’t think it would be this soon,” the sheriff said in a news conference. “But I recently had some issues, lost a son-in-law, and I want to spend more time with my family and pursuing other opportunities.” Conway’s son-in-law recently died from brain cancer.

Conway began working in law enforcement with the Gwinnett and Lawrenceville police departments in 1973. He was elected sheriff in 1996.

Conway initiated the “jail dogs” program which pairs rescue dogs with inmates who train and ready the dogs for adoption. The department also created a housing unit geared toward helping incarcerated military veterans.

Conway has also led the department in participating in the federal 287(g) program, in which local law enforcement agencies are essentially deputized to carry out federal immigration laws and keep detainees so U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents can deport them.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said about one-fourth of Gwinnett residents are foreign-born. The area has seen rapid demographic shifts and changing politics.

At least four Democratic candidates running for the position have vowed to end the office’s participation in 287(g).

Conway, a Republican, said that Chief Deputy Lou Solis, a retired Army Ranger and former assistant chief with Braselton police, will be running to replace him.

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