SIDNEY — Scrutiny on law enforcement officers is higher than ever across the United States.
Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart feels his department has a good relationship with county residents.
Lenhart shared some of the policies and protocols enforced by his office during his weekly interview.
“We’ve had body cameras for close to three years,” said Lenhart. “We also have cameras in the cars so a majority of what officers do is on film. And the officers know that.”
The deputies do not use choke holds when dealing with a suspect.
“We’ve done away with that,” said Lenhart.
If a deputy is in pursuit of a vehicle which is reach high rates of speeds, several factors way in on whether the pursuit continues or not.
“A supervisor makes the decision to shut down the pursuit,” said Lenhart.
If the pursuit is a traffic violation, and speeds become excessive, the pursuit will be stopped. If the pursuit involves a violent felon, it will be continued, he said.
In the case of “use of force” a report is completed, said Lenhart. The report is reviewed by the sheriff and chief deputy. the use of force could include putting a hand on someone or a verbal confrontation.
Lenhart also addressed the recruitment and promotions of deputies for his department.
“My preference is to recruit locally,” said Lenhart. “Other agencies recruit from across the nation.
“If a person is born, raised and lived in the community or town for their entire lives, they know the area,” he said. “They have, as I like to say ‘the skin in the game.’ they pay taxes here. their kids are in school here and they are attending sporting events. They have family and friends. And that’s sometimes better than the people coming from two states away.”
All sheriffs, chief deputies and police chiefs should have oversight of the management of their departments.
“We must always be transparent,” said Lenhart. “If we do something right, we need to talk about it. If we do something wrong, we need to talk about it.”
Lenhart said his office has a review every four years to make sure policies are in place and everything is operating as it should.
“The key to good relationships with citizens is for the deputies to get out of their cars” said Lenhart. “I think we do that quite well.”
Lenhart said the larger metropolitan areas with larger jurisdictions have rules and policies in place and the politicians try to put in their own policy agendas. The changes people are calling for are geared toward the large municipalities.”
Lenhart said his office currently doesn’t do physiological exams of new hires.
“Those are good if you don’t know the people,” said Lenhart. “I know the parents and grandparents of the people e hire. I’ve watched them grow up.
“This isn’t an exact science and we might look into the evaluations in the future,” he said. “We have second and third generations of people working at the sheriff’s office. We would know if they have issues.”
Background checks/Concealed carry
Lenhart said his office has seen a 50% increase in requests for background checks and conceal carry permits.
“We have 8,244 concealed carry permits in the county,” he said. “We averaging 10 to 12 quests a day. We have 200 new applicants since the coronavirus began.”
Lenhart said he’s checked with area gun dealers and he said they can;t keep guns and ammunition stocked because of all the purchases.
“A lot of folks are scared. They watch the news,” he said. “They want to protect themselves. So they’re buying and buying (guns and ammo).”
Lenhart said his office is fielding questions about how to apply for a concealed carry permit.
“We’re directing them to our website,” said Lenhart. “That will answer 99% of their questions of what we want. We taking people by appointment only and they usually have to wait two to three days for an appointment.”
Visit https://co.shelby.oh.us/sheriffs-office/programs/concealed-carry/ for information about a concealed carry permit.