COLUMBUS — Two local residents have been honored by the Light Ohio Blue organization for their support of law enforcement.
John Lenhart, former Shelby County sheriff, and Anne Niemeyer, of Wapakoneta, were recognized during Law Enforcement Week. Lenhart received the Lifetime Achievement award and Niemeyer received the Citizen of the Year award.
“John Lenhart has an iconic career,” said Bill Swank, Light Ohio Blue founder. “He’s been n law enforcement for more than 50 years, He was the youngest sheriff in Ohio when he first started and the oldest in the state when he left office. He’s been the superintendent of the BCI. He received the National Sheriff Award and is the only sheriff from a small county to receive it.”
Lenhart has also worked for the Attorney General’s Office.
“He’s a leader and cooperates well to complete our mission which is public safety,” said Swank.
Lenhart said very few people knew he was getting the award.
“I didn’t tell anyone about the award,” said Lenhart. “I’m honored and blessed. But the honor really goes to the men and women who worked with me my entire career.”
Lenhart also said his family support throughout his career has been vital to him.
“It’s a nice honor and I appreciate it,” he said. I accepted it for the men and women who did the heavy lifting for me.”
Niemeyer was honored for her Let’s Back the Blue activities in Auglaize County. The nonprofit organization raises money for the needs of police departments in Auglaize County.
“Anne uses Let’s Back the Blue money to raise awareness,” said Swank. “They promote cooperation and supply equipment for the agencies. She never wanted the recognition for what she is doing. She has no agenda with what she does. She’s doing it for the right reason — from the goodness of her heart.”
Niemeyer thanked Light Ohio Blue for the honor.
“I’m very honored,” said Niemeyer on receiving the award. “I didn’t expect that. Everything I do for Let’s Back the Blue is to lift up our law enforcement officers.”
She said the Light Ohio Blue is a great organization which helps lift the morale of law enforcement and supports those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Niemeyer said she became involved with the organization when her son, an Ohio State Trooper, talked about how respect for law enforcement had been declining over the years.
“I got together with some like-minded people to do something to let our people in Auglaize County know that we supported and respected them. There are a lot of people who feel the same way.”
She said one of the most popular things they’ve started in Auglaize County is the Blue Light program.
“All the chiefs have mentioned how much the blue lights mean to them,” said Niemeyer, “It increases the morale of the ranks working in the county. “The lights can be seen in day and at night. This is an affirmation that we’re on the right track (in law enforcement support).”
Light Ohio Blue presented the Officer of the Year award to Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Ray Santiago and the Blue Crier award to Brandon “Boxer” Nasby, WCOL 92.3 and WTVN 610.
The keynote speaker at the awards ceremony was Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Swank and Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin also spoke during the ceremony.
Light Ohio Blue’s goal is to support law enforcement officers and civilians who protect communities in Ohio.
The organization can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LightOhioBlue.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.