Wes Collins knows it is going to take some time, but he says he is confident the Hill County Sheriff’s Office can recover from the “black eye” it suffered during a recent peace officer licensing scandal.

Hill County commissioners unanimously removed the interim tag on Collins’ title and appointed him sheriff Tuesday morning.

Collins, 38, will serve out the unexpired term of former Sheriff Mike Cox, who resigned last week after pleading guilty to one count of tampering with governmental records.

Cox; his former chief deputy, Mark Wilson; and former Capt. Leroy Rodriguez all were implicated in a certification scam for which they pleaded guilty and were placed on deferred felony probation.

Collins, a Hill County native, has been interim sheriff since April, when Cox was removed from office after his indictment.

“There is always going to be a black eye for us,” Collins said. “Once the badge is tarnished, it is hard to shine it back up. But we are going to work hard to earn the trust of the people of Hill County.”

Collins has worked at the Hill County Sheriff’s Office since 2002. He said there is a good staff in place to restore the public’s faith.

“It’s been a challenge, but we are getting there. We are getting it done,” he said.

Collins plans to seek election to the office when Cox’s term expires Jan. 1, 2017.

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