Word circulated the Durham courthouse today that longtime Sheriff Worth Hill, 74, will be stepping down from his post in January, but no specific reason was cited by sources inside the department.

Hill hasn’t made an official announcement yet, and his administrative assistant said just before 5 p.m. that Hill wouldn’t be back until Wednesday morning to confirm or deny the reports.

Durham County Manager Mike Ruffin says he hasn’t heard from Hill on the matter.

If Hill is to resign, Durham County Commissioners would have to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Hill’s term, which ends in 2014. Hill was first elected to the top law enforcement job in the county in 1994, after 30 years with the Durham Police Department. Hill has kept his job without any lapses, despite competition along the way. He was most recently challenged in 2010 by Republican Roy Taylor, and before that by current County Commissioner Joe Bowser.

The last time county commissioners had to appoint a new sheriff was when Roland Leary stepped down in 1992. County Commissioner Al Hight served as sheriff from 1993 to 1994 before being defeated by Hill. See a history here.