Fitzgerald, first TBI Task Force Agent from Washington County

Published 1:04 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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JONESBOROUGH – Even after 27 years with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Penny Fitzgerald isn’t ready to stop learning.

In April, she added the title of Task Force Agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to her resume. Fitzgerald will work with the Criminal Investigations Division of TBI in the Upper East Tennessee Region.

“Many deputies will taper off learning new things and taking on new assignments as they approach that 30-year mark, but not Penny,” said Sheriff Keith Sexton. “She’s always looking to learn new things, pass on her skills to the next generation and help out wherever needed. When I recommended her to fill this role, I knew we were sending TBI someone who would step up no matter the situation.”

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Fitzgerald began her career in law enforcement as a Detention Officer back in 1996. She then moved to patrol and ultimately became the Evidence Custodian for WCSO in 2004. Fitzgerald established the office’s evidence tracking system and handles the disposition of seized and forfeited items on closed cases.

With TBI, she will work cases on an as-needed basis in our area utilizing her evidence collection experience.

Under Tennessee law, the TBI has the authority to investigate any criminal violation upon the request of a District Attorney General for the judicial district in which the offense occurred. Under certain circumstances, TBI Agents may also be requested to investigate corruption, judicial misconduct, Social Security fraud and other offenses, in addition to the backgrounds of potential appointees to sensitive state positions.

The TBI has original jurisdiction, under Tennessee law, to investigate the following crimes without a formal request: fugitives from justice, public corruption, conduct of judges, Medicaid fraud, victimization of children by computer or other electronic device, human trafficking, organized crime activities, criminal offenses related to arson and explosives, narcotics and drug violations, employees or prospective employees of the Bureau or Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and investigations pertaining to domestic terrorism that the Bureau receives under a government information security classification.

The State Attorney General can request the TBI to investigate matters including the removal of public officials, securities fraud, and violations of the Consumer Protection Act.