If in doubt, call 911

By Melanie Speicheer - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com

SIDNEY — Who, what, when, where, why.

Those are the questions that Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is asking each county resident to ask if they see something that doesn’t look correct in their neighborhood, at a store or anywhere in the county.

And if they think something might or could happen, he is urging them to call 911.

“Within the past 48 hours, I’ve received information from the National Sheriff’s Association and Homeland Security about what Ohio is up against in 2020,” said Lenhart during his weekly interview. “It’s very frightening what they think will happen.”

Lenhart said there are four areas of concern for 2020.

The first deals with election security and computer security. The second is school safety, while the third is narcotics. The final area of concern is the active shooter.

“This is what law enforcement and citizens are being asked to do as a result of them taking out the general (Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani) over there. The awareness is out there for law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal level.

“Our safety partners have gone into specifics for Ohio and possible emerging threats.”

Lenhart said someone messing with the election results and information concerns him.

“There’s a lot of campaigns out there providing disinformation or misinformation about the elections,” said Lenhart. “With everything on the internet, I tell people that just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. Be leery of what you’e looking at and reading.”

Ransomeware is also a concern, he said. That’s where an unknown party holds computers hostage until someone pays ransom for it.

“Miami County paid $20,000 a couple of years ago because their government computers were tied up. They paid the ransom to get out of it.”

Lenhart said any computer, which gets all its files deleted, can cause havoc for a person, business or government agency.

School safety, said Lenhart, is a concern of all law enforcement agencies.

“They are soft targets,” said Lenhart. “Outsiders and insiders can target the schools. Seventy-nine percent of kids are bullied at school. Some of this kids are potential bullies and could do something tragic.”

Lenhart said in 81 percent of school shootings, “somebody knew it was going to happen. We need to work with school officials, staff, parents and students to make sure a school shooting doesn’t happen.”

The battle against narcotics, said Lenhart, has taken a slight turn in where the fentanyl is coming from.

“China has new laws in place dealing with fentanyl,” said Lenhart. “Now the drug is coming into the U.S. from Mexico, Canada and India. The drug is coming into the U.S. in a vape pen, and we’re seeings kids getting hurt and deaths because of the drug.”

Many of the active shooter incidents in the U.S., said Lenhart, are hate crimes.

“There were 269 hate crimes which were about race in Ohio last year. There were 39 hate crimes which dealt with religion,” he said.

“Fifty-three of the hate crimes involved sexual orientation,” he said. “Eleven crimes were against the disabled.”

Lenhart said he was part of the FBI Uniform Crime Commission in 1992, which put the hate crimes act in place.

“The bottom line is I want the people, if they see something or hear something, to report it to us,” said Lenhart. “I tell people to use the questions we’re taught in law enforcement and what reporters learn — who, what, when, where, why. Then call 911.”


By Melanie Speicheer


The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.