Undersheriff Richard "Rick" Watson will take over as sheriff of the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department after Sheriff Mearl Justus tendered his resignation Tuesday.
County Board Chairman Mark Kern notified Watson of the news.
"He told me Sheriff Justus had resigned from the Sheriff's Department effective immediately and that I would be the sheriff until the county board appoints a person to fill out his term," Watson said.
Justus' term would have ended in November 2014.
Watson described Justus, who has been the sheriff of St. Clair County since 1982, as "a living legend"
"There are very few people who are living legends in law enforcement. Sheriff Justus is a living legend," Watson said.
Watson retired from the Cahokia Police Department in May 2011 after 32 years. From there he took five months off and then went to work at the St. Clair County Courthouse in October 2011. Justus asked him to work as his assistant in February.
He was appointed undersheriff on Friday.