Candidates for sheriff square off

Four vie for Republican bid

By Melanie Yingst -

MIAMI COUNTY — The four Republican candidates running for Miami County Sheriff’s Office can agree that heroin is an issue in the county, but share very different views on how they would run the office if elected as sheriff.

Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dave Duchak, retired Troy Police Department captain of the detective division Chris Anderson, retired Miami County Sheriff’s Office Captain Steve Cooper and law enforcement veteran and U.S. Army Reserve Commander Paul Reece shared how they would lead the sheriff’s office if elected.

The winner of the March 15 Republican primary would face Independent candidate Joe Mahan in the November general election.

One of the many questions from the audience at the Leadership Troy Alumni “Meet the Candidates” forum, asked the candidates “Assessing the performance of the current sheriff’s department, if elected would you keep it going in the same direction or keep it on the same course?”

Chris Anderson, a retired Troy Police Department captain with 31 years of experience, said he would like to seek national accreditation for the sheriff’s office.

“It’s not an accredited agency at this point, although it is a somewhat tenuous adventure to get there, it can do nothing but establish professionalism and do the type of moral boosting that is sorely needed at the sheriff’s department as I see it,” Anderson said.

With 33 years of law enforcement service, retired Miami County Sheriff’s Office Captain Steven E. Cooper said the sheriff’s office has a lot of young officers who could benefit from additional training.

“The sheriff’s office is a young department. There’s a lot of young officers on that department. I’d like to see a lot more training within the sheriff’s office — all aspects of training from fire arms, driving, domestic violence. Then all the things going on inside the sheriff’s office. There’s been some accusations of bullying, sexual harassment. I’d like to get all officers trained to know what that is and to put a stop to it.”

Current Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dave Duchak said the sheriff’s office is going in the right direction.

“I think the sheriff’s office is very strong and is going in the right direction, contrary to what a couple of what my opponents have to say and are wrong on a couple of those issues,” Duchak said.

In regards to Anderson’s national accreditation idea, Duchak said he and current Sheriff Charles Cox explored the process, which was expensive and the office is already self-insured.

“The state of Ohio, through the governor’s task force has a state accreditation process, which we have started and we’ve followed best practices,” Duchak said. “We follow policy and procedures and are top notch. The more funding you put in these other positions, like business administrators and accreditation, you’re going to be pulling deputies from the road. If I’m elected, we want the front line people to keep the community safe.”

Reece said the course of the sheriff’s office needs to change.

“The course of the sheriff’s office has to change and has to change drastically and has to change from the top,” Reece said. “This is nobody’s problem and nobody’s fault other than from the top. It’s no deputies problem, no corrections officers’ problem, no staff’s problem. You lead people. When you lead people through direction and motivation. You establish what your mission is and you rewire your department and you accomplish your mission. I’m not going to go down the list and make an attack here of all the problems we have had the last several years with the jails, and the courts, but there’s a number of problems. I’m not going to do that, that’s going to be up to you to do that. But a lot of things need to change. I was hired (at the Miami County Sheriff’s Office) in 1990, this department was never in the news other than for very positive and very proactive things that those guys in the back did. Here in the last several years, it hasn’t been so good. I’m not making an attack, but it needs to change.”

Four vie for Republican bid

By Melanie Yingst