Longtime Winchester, Tenn., police Chief Dennis Young died suddenly early Sunday.
A Jonesboro, Ark., native, the 58-year-old chief was widely known for his campaigns locally and across the state against illegal drug use, particularly his efforts in recent years to stem methamphetamine production and opioid abuse.
Young had worked for Winchester since 2001, first as chief over the public safety department that then consisted of both the fire and police departments, and then as police chief, Winchester city recorder Teena Waggoner said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the chief's family and our law enforcement family," Waggoner said Monday.
Longtime friend, fellow Tennessee Volunteers fan and law enforcement colleague Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller said he and Young were "old school" and had become friends years ago when Fuller was a young investigator for the sheriff's department and Young was chief in Estill Springs, Tenn.
"He was one of the best friends that I ever had. He's going to be missed," Fuller said. "He was one that never backed up from something hard, and he was one that was determined to make a difference."
Fuller said that in 1997 he and Young were in Rome, Ga., to testify for a federal trial and Young was such a dedicated Vols fan he asked the judge to allow a little longer lunch one day because then-Vols junior quarterback Peyton Manning was to announce his intentions for his senior year. The judge agreed, seeming to sense his passion for the Big Orange.
Fuller said he'd always carry that memory with him.
"He and I could write a book together on the experiences we've had in this job working with each other," Fuller said. "He had passion and a calling for what he was doing in life."
Young's obituary describes him as an avid Tennessee Volunteers football fan who enjoyed fishing, traveling to the beach and boating on Tims Ford Lake, and said the chief was a strong leader, protector and father who would be remembered for "being loyal to a fault."
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1 on Facebook.