MOUNT VERNON — For only the second time in 35 years, there’s a new sheriff in town. David Barber stepped down this week as the longest-serving sheriff in Knox County history. He followed Paul K. Rowe, who held the office from 1977 to 1993, and has served five terms as the county’s top law enforcement officer. Barber retires after 20 years as sheriff and 40 years overall in law enforcement.
David Shaffer, the department veteran Barber appointed as the force’s captain, is now the county’s 49th sheriff. He was among friends and colleagues who gathered to give Barber heartfelt send-offs Monday at his office and publicly Wednesday.
“When I got to work Monday the entire department was in dress uniform,” Barber said. “They lined the hall to my office to give me a final salute, and it was pretty overwhelming. When the big ball dropped and the New Year began, I was ready to hand things over. It’s beginning to sink in that there’s no place I have to be in the morning.”
A lot has changed in law enforcement in the past 20 years. “When I came in we didn’t have the computer systems or weaponry that we now have, or the advanced training,” he said. “We’re a modern and effective force, and that’s a tribute to our staff. I’ve always tried to surround myself with good people, and I consider our force to be one of the top law enforcement agencies in Ohio.”
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