Mount Vernon News

David Shaffer

To start with, run through your background and experience.

I started with the Fredericktown Police Department in 1987. I worked as a patrolman for six and a half years there. I joined the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in September 1993. I started as patrol officer on the midnight shift, then worked the 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift. This time allowed me to work during the most active times for OVI or DUI enforcement. I received the MADD award for most arrests at the sheriff’s office for several years. In 1995, I was fortunate enough to be in the original group of officers from the sheriff’s offce to complete the special response team training course. I remained active with the tactical response unit, and in 2008, I became the tactical team leader. I still deploy during tactical operations as part of the command staff, but have turned the team leader function over to one of the sergents.

When I was promoted to patrol sergeant, this gave me the opportunity to supervise the officers assigned to the afternoon shift. In 2008, when the leiutenant at the time indicated he was planning to retire, I took advance training and classes to help myself be the best candidate for the lieutenant position. The lieutenant is a division commander for all of the patrol officers; he’s also in charge of the civil process division which oversees report records, as well as court papers, warrants and the sheriff sales.

I received a promotion to captain in 2010 after the captain at that time had retired. As second in command, I’m involved in personnel issues, such as hiring, discipline and promotions. I also assist the sheriff in coordinating with the administrative assistant, the auditor’s office, and the county commissioners on budgetary issues. I oversee the purchase and maintenance of most of our supplies and equipment. I review reports for media release and handle the requests for special events. I also provide assistance to the detective division during search warrants or special operations, whether it’s recording evidence or gettting them the supplies and equipment they may need to work more effectively.

I also serve on several community committes. The suicide prevention coalition has a mission to educate the public that suicide is not limited to any particular age, sex or socioeoconomic group. They try to promote education and awareness. The substance abuse action team works to deal with problem of all types of substance abuses. One program that we’re hoping to have in place within the next couple of months is the implementation of two drop boxes — one at the Mount Vernon Police Department and one at the sheriff’s office. These will be for anyone to drop off unused prescription medications, hopefully, to keep it from getting into the wrong hands. The more we can limit the use of prescription medications to those who actually need it, the better.

The Seniors And Law Enforcement Together is a project that was spearheaded in our area by Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher. The group focuses on helping senior citizens on avoiding being taken advantage of and also assist them in areas of their special needs they may have.

Why are you running for sheriff?

I’ve been able to combine hard work, motivation and training, and a great group of co-workers in a position to lead the organization. I guess what led me to consider running was that more and more of the people that brought up the idea were co-workers and people that I interacted with, both professionally and personally. Their confidence in my abilities enhanced my own confidence.

I look at some of our officers, especially some of the younger officers, and can see that’s the way I tried to go about doing my job and learning when I was in their position. I want to be around as sheriff to share some of my motivation and experiences with them and help them progress in their careers like other people did for me. I’m looking for officers who are self-motivated, like to learn, and truly want to do a good job and project a positive image of the sheriff’s office. I think that everyone has an important role and that’s everyone from the custodian to the agency head.

What sets you apart from your opponent in this race?

I think it’s probably my years of experience coupled with the supervisiory experience that I have. My supervisory experience as a sergeant, lieutenant, division commander and captain, or second in charge of an agency with 57 employees. I spent the past two years assisting in the preparation and execution of the $4 million annual budget. I spent the last 3 1/2 years in charge of the civil process division and records division, coordinating property appraisals and conducting the sheriff sales. I guess that would be the most things that probably set me apart.

The sheriff’s office and jail have the largest budget in the county. What can be done to contain spending and keep that under control?

I think the things that we’ve been doing lately. We’ve tried to limit overtime as much as we possibly can. One thing, obviously, that sets us apart is we’re a 24-hour-a-day operation, everyday of the year we’re there, we have people in the building and we have to man and staff the building. We’re also handling calls and service, like I said, 24 hours a day. Some of the things we do to try and keep the budget under control, other than the overtime, is there’s a couple of programs I started a while back — the law enforcement support office and department of administrative services through the state of Ohio. Both of those programs allow us to acquire a lot of the equipment we get. The military program, the law enforcement program, is at no cost, and the department of administrative services is a lot of used equipment, but it’s at a greatly reduced cost. So buying or acquiring some of that equipment, we’ve been able to get a vehicle, patrol rifles for our officers. We trade confiscated property in. We were able to trade confiscated and unused firearms for brand new weapons for all our patrol officers, as well as some leather gear and ammunition to go with that. We just try to seize property, that is gained illegally, from suspects and convert that into unmarked vehicles or trade it in for something we can use.

Our current sheriff isn’t always available to the public or media, what is your philosophy regarding an open dialogue with your constituency?

We try and make as much contact as we can. I know he works a lot of afternoons and evenings, and I’m generally in during the mornings and daytimes, so between us we try and catch as much as we can. I try to return as many calls as I can during this time.

What qualifications do you have as far as negotiation with the union?

I think the FOP has a different board that they use. I think it used to be called union steward or chief negotator, but they have three bargaining members that do a lot of their wokr. I actually had that function from the labor side for several contracts and we’re just finishing up a contract that I’ve been able to work through from the managment side. I’ve set on both sides of the table.

We’ve heard complaints that deputies/detectives do not always dust for prints when theft/burglary reports are taken. Is that a flaw in procedure that needs to be addressed or is there a reason people should understand more about how that operation works?

I guess maybe it’s a combination of people maybe having expectations. A lot of it maybe comes from watching TV — CSI you can solve anything in an hour. Obviously, that’s not always true. A lot of our guys try to look at the circumstances; see what is out, see if it is something they can dust for prints. Sometimes you can get an indication just by looking with a flashlight at certain angles. Does it look like the person was using gloves? Does this look like some kind of pattern from there? So, it’s a combination. Was the area visited by a lot of other people right after that, so is the scene contamindated? They try and do prints when the circumstancces warrant, but obviously it’s not going to be everytime. ... There’s a lot of different surface types, there’s a lot of different powder types. There’s ways to gather prints on things you may not think that you could. It’s kind of a science or an art, I guess. Some of our guys have spent some extra time to be quite well at it. If we generally get an officer who’s not comfortable with a certain way, he may call another officer that has a little bit more training to help him.

Do you have a plan for tackling cold cases and how many are there?

We have detectives that try and go back or at least keep those open, try to do some follow-up on them, especially when we get some information on them. We have not considered the Jean Davis a cold case by any means. Our officers are still working that case and I know they do follow up investigation. Without saying anything specific, I just talked to our detective lieutenant, Lt. Rohler, who’s actually doing some followup on that just within the last day or so.

Why should poeple vote for you?

Some of the things I’ve mentioned. My supervisory experience, I feel that I’m a good representative of the agency, both on and off duty. My community involvement involves my church, volunteering for school functions. I served 18 years with the Fredericktown Commununity Fire District. My opponent sometimes says, ‘you name it, I’ve done it.’ I prefer to talk about us and we as the agency. Any large operation or event or major investigation, I feel is about teamwork. All the things my opponent and I talk about, things that we’ve done, really, that’s just our jobs and the duties people expect us to perform. I think what makes us different is my involvement in the community groups, and organizations both within the job and outside my job; experience in being in command, and experience in being a leader in the agency.

What other issues do you see as important in this race or other things you want to comment on?

I think just some of the things I’ve been working on, some of the maybe technology. One thing I’ve tried to stress is people and technology together — I think that’s the combination we’re looking for in the future. I know one of our secretaries was just working on the sheriff’s office Facebook account. We’re working with a company called Bair Analytics. We’re in the process of uploading our current reports and calls of service on to, the company actually does the work, and plots those on what could be considered a Google mapping system, so that the public could pull up their address, look at it, and see what reports the sheriff’s office has taken within their neighborhood. It also has a couple of other functions, an anonymous email tip section where they can submit information if they have information on a crime or criminal activity. On another, I believe it’s an email function, where we can put out information to them, too. We’re just kind of in the process of getting that up and hopefully running shortly.

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