SIDNEY – Jim Frye was sworn in Monday afternoon as the next Shelby County sheriff, a role he will take over when current Sheriff John Lenhart leaves the office at the end of the week.
William R. Zimmerman, judge for the Third District Court of Appeals, administered Frye’s oath Monday afternoon in the Sidney Municipal Court. During his swearing in, Frye placed his hand on a Bible that belonged to his father, Raymond Frye, who died while serving in the Coast Guard.
“It was more emotional (than I expected),” Frye said of taking the oath. “For the most part I did OK, I think. It’s emotional. It’s emotional for me.
“It just doesn’t seem (real) because Sheriff Lenhart’s always been my sheriff, basically. It’s a little hard to know that you’re taking over for somebody like him, and it’s awful big shoes to fill.”
Lenhart, who served as Shelby County sheriff from 1976-91 and 2009-20, declined to seek another term during this year’s election. Frye, the chief deputy for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, defeated Mark Jordan in the Republican primary, receiving 63.44% of the 6,832 votes in the primary, then ran unopposed in the general election.
Frye has been an important part of the office’s leadership for years, Lenhart said, and is ready to handle the position of sheriff.
“Jim was my right-hand man to bring things back to being stable, whether it was the finances of it or the morale of the personnel there and bring it back to the integrity and the character that the office of sheriff should have,” Lenhart said.
Frye, a Sidney High School graduate, attended United States Marine Corps basic training in Paris Island, South Carolina, the Military Police Academy at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama, and military police in-service training at Camp Elmore in Norfolk, Virginia. He has almost 40 years of full-time law enforcement experience, working at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for more than a decade.
For the past few years, Lenhart prepared Frye to eventually succeed him as the Shelby County sheriff.
“He’s given me all the tools for the trade, and all I’ve got to do is go ahead and do exactly the way he’s taught me and serve the people of Shelby County,” Frye said.
While there inevitably will be some changes such as retirements, Frye said, he doesn’t plan any major changes to the operations at the Sheriff’s Office.
“Sheriff Lenhart’s got the train on the right track, and we’ll keep it on the track,” he said.
The biggest challenges Frye sees facing the Sheriff’s Office is the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and budgetary constraints that are likely to come as a result of lost tax income. He’s proud that the office has been able to keep the virus out of the Shelby County Jail.
Frye won’t appoint anyone to take on his job of chief deputy at this time. Eventually, when he identifies someone he would like to see succeed him as sheriff, he will promote that person to sheriff and train the person as Lenhart trained him.
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