Running for Henry County Sheriff was something Marc Ruskey thought he’d be doing at some point in his career, but decided he couldn’t wait due to safety concerns he had for staff and residents.
“I had intended to run in five or maybe 10 years, but when the current sheriff ran in 2012 he wanted to increase road patrol staffing and he had some other things he wanted to see done,” Ruskey said.
“There were 12 deputies when he took over, and over the course of the last seven years we’ve dropped down to nine deputies from a few months in 2018 to all of 2019,” Ruskey added. “There was about a year and a half we dropped down to nine deputies, which resulted in several occasions of one deputy working alone on the road.”
Ruskey said reallocating current resources should be enough to properly staff road patrols.
He pointed out surrounding counties have police departments that cover their villages, but in Henry County the sheriff’s office has contracted with most villages to provide that service. He added if a serious incident happens, that means the deputies do not have the backup of village police.
He said staff has also fallen behind on training mandates such as using a Taser and bean bag shotguns. He said deputies carry them but aren’t currently certified, and others don’t have them at all.
“So that’s a big thing for me, because even if you do your job right but aren’t certified, that’s a huge liability,” Ruskey said.
He added all of these items can be corrected within the current budget and not asking for more money from the county commissioners. He also said he addressed his concerns with the current sheriff a few years ago, but nothing changed.
Ruskey said many of the trainings would only cost the expense of the materials as there are certified instructors in house.
“So we can meet most of the training standards and exceed them without increasing our budget, just proper planning and scheduling,” Ruskey said.
He also would like deputies to receive Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which is available from Four County Career Center.
“They offer 40 hours of training for free, and that’s something I’ll push all the officers to go through,” Ruskey said, adding about half have it now but it is not mandated.
Looking ahead, Ruskey said the drug abuse issue will remain a problem that needs to be tackled. He added he would continue to use the office’s two K-9 units, but better staffing on the roads would enable them to focus on drug activity.
He would also maintain the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E. program) that has a deputy teaching students how to make good decisions.
Building connections with other agencies would also be a priority, including the City of Napoleon and Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“I’m going to make a strong effort with the city police department to work collaboratively (on 9-1-1 calls),” Ruskey said.
He used the example of someone from inside the city calling 9-1-1 for a child choking. He said the dispatcher then takes the info and relays to the city dispatcher, or patches the caller to the city police. However, he said calls can be dropped when that is done.
To address that, he would like to install web cams into the sheriff and police dispatch so one can hear and see what the other is doing and receive 9-1-1 information in real time, cutting down on response times.
Ruskey started at the Henry County Sheriff’s Office in 2007, but has had an interest in public safety since he was in fire and emergency medical services 15 years ago. He then went to the police academy in 2005.
He began as a road deputy and then from 2013 to this year was a road patrol sergeant. He resigned his position in the office to run as an Independent for sheriff.
As road sergeant, Ruskey’s duties included reviewing road reports from about half the other deputies, direct field supervision, field training and road patrol scheduling, in addition to the normal duties of a deputy.