MIAMI COUNTY — Incumbent Sheriff Dave Duchak is being challenged by Paul Reece for the Miami County Sheriff’s position during the March 17 primary election. Voters must request a Republic ballot to vote for the sheriff’s position, which will be decided in the primary election.
FAMILY: Two adult children attending college.
PREVIOUS POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: First term Miami County Sheriff.
Qualifications: Current Miami County Sheriff elected in 2016. I am a 33-year law enforcement veteran with 30 of those years serving at the Miami County Sheriff’s Office. I have held the following positions while at the Sheriff’s Office: Patrol Deputy, Detective, Patrol Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant, Detective Lieutenant, Administrative Captain, Patrol Captain and Chief Deputy.
I graduated Tippecanoe High School in 1983 and attended the University of Dayton for 3 ½ years as a criminal justice major. I graduated from the Butler Township Police Academy in 1986. I have completed and attended countless law enforcement schools, trainings, and seminars over the past 33 years of my career on virtually every law enforcement topic to including management, budgeting, and labor relations (contracts), etc.
If elected, what are your goals for the term?
1. NARCOTICS ENFORCEMENT – Four years ago, we were in the midst of a terrible heroin and opioid epidemic in the county and across the country. At that time, I assisted others in forming the Miami County Heroin Coalition comprised of various disciplines that include the courts, probation, law enforcement, faith based groups, Miami County Recovery Council, Tri-County Mental Health Board, and many others.
We met monthly the first few years and continue to meet bi-monthly to this day at the Sheriff’s Training Center. The name has since been changed to the Drug-Free Coalition. Much was accomplished by this group because we realized we were not going to arrest our way out of the problem. The decline in use is evidenced by the fact that overdose visits to hospital emergency rooms are down by at least half compared to previous years.
Today, the heroin and opioid problem has been greatly reduced; however, we have seen a resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine. Because of this increase, I have added another narcotics detective to the detective section in addition to having a detective detailed with the Dayton Office of the D.E.A. There is much crossover in the drug trade, and this partnership with the D.E.A. has and will continue to pay many dividends to keep narcotics out of Miami County.
Because increased illegal narcotics use brings increased crime and human misery, I feel this is, and has been, the top issue the Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement in general face. I will do all that is possible to continue to keep illegal narcotics out of Miami County and bring those who would traffic narcotics to justice.
2. MAINTAINING SERVICES/TECHNOLOGY – The Miami County Sheriff’s Office offers a very wide variety of services, and demand for those services seems to increase yearly. While our statutory responsibilities are great, the community expects, and we enjoy offering, many community outreach programs such as active shooter training, Project Lifesaver, citizen and teen academies, youth camp, and safety town among others. I will always strive to offer as many community outreach programs as is feasible.
Along with maintaining services, it is imperative for us to keep up with current with technology that will assist enforcement efforts. To date, we have been very successful in acquiring a lot of technology through grants and narcotics enforcement seizure funds. The Sheriff’s Office is currently well positioned with some of the best technology on the market. Our most recent addition is a drone, which will have a lot of public safety utility going forward. Keeping up to date with ever changing technology and seeking outside funding will continue to be a priority in the future.
3. MAXIMUM SECURITY DETENTION ADDITION – Currently, Miami County maintains two jails. The one on North County Road 25-A is a minimum security jail, and the one downtown is a maximum security jail. The downtown jail is coming on 50 years old and, by state minimum jail standards, should only hold 48 inmates, which it typically exceeds. The Miami County Maintenance Department does a very good job of maintaining both jails, however the fact remains that the downtown jail is approaching the end of life.
Going forward, the county will need to start planning for building a maximum security addition to the minimum security jail on North County Road 25-A at some point in the near future. The demand for maximum security beds is only increasing as the state continues to shift the burden for housing felony 4 and 5 offenders onto the counties. By having both jails under one roof, there would be long term cost savings as less personnel would be needed for staffing.
Some good news on this topic is that there is finally some movement in Columbus to possibly start offering some funding for counties in need of a new jail or renovations. The state has not offered any funding for jails for over 20 years, and the need is great, especially in light of felony 4 and 5 offenders being incarcerated locally. I and the Miami County Commissioners have sent a letter to ensure Miami County is on the list of those counties in need of funding. We will continue do all we can to leverage any state dollars for such a project. More should be learned on the funding as the state nears the beginning of its fiscal year in July.
What is the S.O. doing to combat fraud, specifically targeting seniors and the growing reports of these “invisible” crimes? In collaboration with Adult Protective Services, I have assigned a detective as a representative of the Sheriff’s Office to attend their meetings and trainings in addition to increased communications and operations regarding this issue. This partnership has been on-going for several years. Social media and traditional media are used to warn of these scams when we learn about them. Unfortunately, many of these scams originate overseas so local law enforcement cannot do as much as we would like. We also offer prevention training to any group requesting it. I feel we are on top of the problem as much as we can be.
What sets you apart from your opponent? Two words: experience and leadership. I feel it is important for voters to realize that my opponent has never been promoted to a supervisory position during his career at two separate sheriff’s offices. I have promoted up through all of the ranks at the Sheriff’s Office over the past 30 years. I know the operations of the office inside and out to include overseeing a multi-million dollar budget. Being Sheriff, you are pulled in many directions on several different topics and all at the same time. There are days I go from dealing with an issue in the jail, to an issue with court security, civil process, patrol issue, sheriff’s sale, budget, personnel, media, etc. all in a short time frame. You have to be good at multi-tasking and having institutional knowledge of each issue and section of the office or you won’t be successful. I could not imagine being Sheriff without having come up through the ranks and acquiring all of the knowledge that is required to making informed and educated decisions that sometimes come at you very quickly. Sheriff’s Offices are very unique and have many more statutory requirements than just the jail and patrol. It is not an easy job, but it is a very fulfilling and rewarding one, and I would add that no sheriff would be successful without a dedicated and professional staff which I am blessed to have.
Paul L Reece
FAMILY: Married 26 years, six children, 12 grandchildren.
OCCUPATION: Retired Deputy Sheriff; United States Army Reserve Chief Warrant Officer Three; Special Agent United States Army Criminal Investigation Division Command.
PREVIOUS POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: I ran for Miami County Sheriff in 2016 and nearly won with a margin of less than 1,000 votes.
QUALIFICATIONS: Law Enforcement for 35 total years dating back to 1985. I served 26 years as a Deputy Sheriff — 16 in Miami County and 10 in Montgomery County.
Concurrent to that service, I also have 23 years of military service in the United States Army and United States Air Force. I am currently a Special Agent with the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division Command; United States Army Reserve. I hold the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Three.
Education: Bachelor’s of Arts in Organizational Management from Bluffton University and a Master of Arts in Business and Organizational Security Management from Webster University.
If elected, what are your goals for the term?
1. Repair and address public perceptions and credibility issues. Trust is essential in our line of work, and the Sheriff is responsible for building that trust in three important areas. The first is with his team and their families. It is the team that provides the services to our community each day. Next, is the community. Engaging with the community and community leaders is paramount to relationship building and earning real trust. Lastly, is the importance of building positive relationships with other officials across the county to include the leadership of each law enforcement agency, fire departments, and emergency services providers. To regain credibility and trust, I will put safeguards in place to prevent the abuses of the office, abuses of investigative authority, and the targeting of private individuals, public servants, and employees, among many other issues.
2. Address the jail issues. For the last nine years, our jails have been in various states of being closed, grossly understaffed, condemned and unfit for human habitation. Closed pods in the jail hamper law enforcement because there are not enough beds available. Too often, offenders who should be incarcerated walk away with a summons to appear in court at a future date. Probation and parole officers face the same problem in dealing with individuals who refuse to comply with the conditions of the court. Today, jails have become education facilities, rehabilitation centers, mental health facilities, and vocational centers. Our corrections officers work 12-hour shifts, are being assaulted, and have very little time off due to the on-going staffing issues. This high turnover rate continues due to morale problems. I will ensure that our jails are open and adequately staffed. The facilities, which are provided and owned by the taxpayers, must be maintained and operational by ensuring that preventative maintenance and checks are complete. I will recruit, hire, train and retain correction officers and advocate for them and the important work they do. While renting bed space sounds great, and I am willing to consider that option once we have a plan in place to house our prisoners. The $750,00,00 estimated income to the county is based on renting all 60 beds for 365 days continually. This financial equation does not address the necessity to keep Miami County criminals off of Miami County streets.
3. Address illicit drugs and the crimes associated with them. Saying you cannot arrest your way out of this situation is a great way to kick the can down the road. Saying that you sit on boards and attend training does not equate to action as Sheriff. Heroin has begun to level off in many areas of the country. Methamphetamine and fentanyl remain a growing concern. Fentanyl, when added to methamphetamine, results in “super-meth.” The change in trends continues, just as it did with the return of heroin, with crack cocaine now making a resurgence, as it is a cheaper and typically less lethal drug. Under the current process, most addicts are not arrested, thus placing them and the community at risk. Where possible, we must arrest them on the spot as opposed to issuing a summons for them to appear in court months later for the safety of the addict and the welfare of involved children and family members. When an addict is without money and drugs, the propensity for property crimes (burglaries, breaking and entering) thefts, robberies, prostitution, and human trafficking increase. Locally, this also puts our farmers, small businesses, and villages at a higher risk. Next, I will advocate for a change in the law as the current practice of qualified immunity is not working for the addicts, their children, or the community. There is no existing mechanism in place to allow an arresting officer to know who has received qualified immunity in another jurisdiction. This practice is harmful and only allows for further abuse and associated crimes to be committed. I will also support the efforts of treatment and engage with community leaders on job placement, life skills, and raising children. I will also work to support our judges who impose sentences to keep at-risk people off the street. Women and men who are addicted have different needs and motivations to get clean and stay healthy. While children are typically at the highest end of concern for addicted mothers, the ability to earn and support children is important to the fathers. I have the desire, the will, and a plan to work on various incarceration techniques and levels to allow our court system, as well as the medical and social professionals to do their jobs.
As sheriff, how would you combat fraud, specifically targeting seniors and the growing reports of these “invisible” crimes? So many of these sick crimes are perpetuated by criminals over the phone from other states and many times out of the country. I have a plan to engage on a proactive platform with our churches, senior communities, and social media. Education and preventative measures are crucial in protecting our elderly from these abuses.
What sets you apart from your opponent? I have been involved in the field of law enforcement for 35 years, and I have been privileged to worked with, and for, some of the best leaders and future leaders in the United States military and civilian law enforcement. High-level leadership opportunities while in the U.S. Army have prepared me to pinpoint problems and how to address them effectively. I will refine the decision-making process. I have the experience and proven ability to lead others. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management and a Master’s Degree in Business and Organizational Security Management. I am ready and willing to tackle tough issues.
I will bring fresh eyes and ears to our agency and to our community. I have the proven ability to facilitate good working relationships with leaders — both civilian and in law enforcement. I will not interfere with other elected officials and community leaders in how they administer their agency and their team. I have no desire to tell others how to do their job. I will recognize and address gross abuses of authority as Sheriff.
I will cease and desist from toxic leadership tactics. I will value and demonstrate genuine concern for all employees and their families. I will fulfill the duties of the office as prescribed by law. I will keep the safety and security of Miami County in focus at all times. I will recruit, hire, train, retain and promote current employees when possible, and being attentive to their long-term personal and professional well-being. Before taking actions, I will ask; is it legal, is it within standard operating procedures, is it safe for the community and the team, is it moral, and will it accomplish the desired goal.