The candidates were asked their stance on the Second Amendment, battling the heroin epidemic, officers being equipped with body cameras and their proposed changes to the sheriff’s office department. The candidates filled out questionnaires and were also personally interviewed by the Troy Daily News staff:
• Proposed changes and goals
CHIEF DEPUTY DAVE DUCHAK: Chief Deputy Duchak said if he is elected sheriff, the biggest change to the office he would implement would be to hire more staff, including hiring a succeeding chief deputy.
“I plan on having a chief deputy if I have the privilege of being elected,” Duchak said. “We, during the recession, the sheriff and I and administrative staff, cut back to the bare bones to keep deputies out on the front lines and to keep them safe and to keep the residents safe. We’ve really shortchanged ourselves the last several years. We are short an administrative position since the recession; I want to bring that back because it’s sorely needed.”
Duchak also said he would restore promotional positions within areas of the department.
“These people (have) truly performed and have done so much more with less — all of us did — to keep people on the road,” Duchak said. “Now that almost all county offices have been restored (to pre-recession staff levels) … I want to advocate to try to get some of those positions we lost during the recession.”
Duchak’s goals are to continue efforts to combat the heroin/opiate epidemic through stringent enforcement efforts, working with jail inmates who want to get help, and most importantly continuing the partnership with the community. Duchak said he will continue to monitor the jail overcrowding situation.
“After working for well over a year with the commissioners, we are now budgeted to open a third pod at the Incarceration Facility, which should alleviate the overcrowding problem for awhile,” Duchak said. “(I) will continue to seek grants to offset costs, which we have successfully been doing for years and continue to acquire the best in equipment and technology to keep staff and residents safer.”
CHRIS ANDERSON: Retired Troy Police Department Detective Captain Chris Anderson said if elected sheriff, he would like to add a staff member with a business background to help manage the bureaucratic part of law enforcement and seek national accreditation.
“First and foremost, I would establish trust and mutual respect in the sheriff’s office among the citizens of Miami County, the employees within the agency and all elected officials within the county. This is an area that has been neglected for far too long and it is time for a change,” Anderson said. “Next would be to work with the other county officials and begin the process for national accreditation for the sheriff’s office. I believe that coming from an Accredited Agency and working as an assessor myself, I have a complete understanding of the value of Policies and Procedures that are based on national best practices and how they improve all areas of your agency.”
Anderson said he has studied the sheriff’s office budget and said there is room for improvement for allocation of funds to add to staff the business side of sheriff office so law enforcement can focus on fighting crime and keeping residents safe.
“With the number of contracts, and grants they are managing over there, I think with someone with a business background — someone who understands contracts and grant writing and analysis — in today’s law enforcement world you’d have to take a look at it,” Anderson said.
STEVE COOPER: Retired Miami County Sheriff’s Office Captain Steve Cooper said he is running for sheriff because he enjoys helping people and he wants to change morale at the sheriff’s office.
“When I am elected, I want to make the sheriff’s office and its employees trusted once again. I want to have transparency and keep the public advised of what’s going on at their sheriff’s office. No more secrets between the ranks and make sure the employees know that they are appreciated. I will have an open door policy for all who need to speak to me. (I will) protect the citizens of Miami County.”
If elected, Cooper said the first thing he would do would bring new upper-level staff including a chief deputy and administrative assistant and reach out to every employee.
“A lot of the changes the other candidates have said are already in place. What I’d like to do in the first few weeks in office is to meet with every employee. When I was jail administrator, I made sure every day I went in and talked to every employee at the jail. Granted, at times, there would only be 13-14 people, but I’d go in early and I’d stay late just to talk to them. I’d like to get out there and find out what the main issues are.”
PAUL REECE: Paul Reece, of Piqua, who resigned as a deputy at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 4, 2015, to pursue the sheriff’s position, shared his mission and vision if elected sheriff of Miami County.
“As sheriff, my focus would be on illegal narcotics because they are here, human trafficking because it’s on the rise, and terrorism because it’s a reality that we cannot ignore,” Reece said. “I also have a plan to address jail concerns, secure the courthouse, prioritize spending and review internal policies. Under my leadership, the primary goal will be to serve the citizens of Miami County effectively and efficiently.”
Reece said he is running for office because he cares about the men and women who serve on the department and Miami County as a whole.
Reece said he would bring in more leaders within the department and will focus on delegation of the department’s job.
“They must be critical independent thinkers and they understand your mission and what it is that you want to do,” Reece said.
• Second Amendment right to bear arms
All four candidates shared that the number one question Miami County residents were asking each candidate is their stance on Second Amendment right to bear arms. All four agreed they would uphold the Constitution and this right.
REECE: “I’m clearly and will be a constitutional sheriff. The Constitution is the single most important document in our country,” Reece said. “I’m fully in support of the Second Amendment. I want our citizens to be armed if they so choose to be. I want them to feel safe and secure in their homes. We are well past the point in today’s society right now of being able to be at someone’s door step in a mere second.”
ANDERSON: Anderson said he supports the citizens’ rights to bear arms and he would speed up the process for applying for a concealed carry weapon permit if he is elected sheriff.
“I would turn them around as quickly as it could happen,” Anderson said. “It should only be a couple of days maximum.”
COOPER: Cooper said he was in charge of Miami County’s CCW permit process for one year before retiring in 2011. According to Cooper, under Sheriff Cox, background checks are being run not only through a national database, but also include phone call checks to surrounding counties and cities before the CCW is issued — a step he deems unnecessary and time consuming.
“Once you run criminal background, that should be the end of it. These should be turned around in days — two days at the most. There’s no need in contacting these other agencies to find out if there’s an issue with it. The law is in place if there is an issue or if someone does something in this county, we can take the CCW away from them,” Cooper said. Cooper said he would also like to add gun safety classes for new gun owners through the department if elected.
DUCHAK: Duchak said he is very pro-Second Amendment and he helped move the CCW permit process to the Incarceration Facility to allow more parking and to make it more accessible to the public.
“My position is I’m very pro-Second Amendment. I took an oath over 28 years ago to preserve and protect the Constitution as part of the sheriff’s oath and I will always do that,” Duchak said.
• Heroin epidemic in Miami County
COOPER: “When I am elected as sheriff, I will be as aggressive as I can be to try and make it less profitable for drug dealers to do business in Miami County. In the schools, I will have my SRO’s educate the students better. I will team up with law enforcement agencies at all levels to work with them so that all can do the best they can to rid the public from this menace. I will go after the small-time drug dealers as well as the major ones. I will do whatever I have to do to stop this drug epidemic. I will also bring drug counselors into the jails to try and get inmates treatment.”
REECE: “First, I must acknowledge this is a multi-front problem, which requires a comprehensive approach from the sheriff. Addiction and trafficking are two different problems. We cannot arrest our way out of the addiction problem, and therefore, I will embrace and facilitate the community programs and court-based treatment programs that address addiction. Second, is the enforcement activities which the sheriff has a more direct role in. I have a significant amount of experience in narcotics investigations and I have a detailed plan to combat heroin trafficking.”
DUCHAK: “Stringent enforcement efforts on all fronts and continued collaboration with law enforcement agencies within and outside the county to include state and federal. We added a third narcotics detective position over 18 months ago. We are not seeing a large number of heroin dealers in the county due to heroin being sold so cheaply in Dayton. Miami County users are driving to Dayton and then returning with the heroin. Deputies are using interdiction and other methods to intercept whenever possible.
“At the beginning of the year, we partnered with Tri-County Mental Health and are offering the drug Vivitrol to those inmates addicted to heroin/opiates. The inmates must successfully complete an assessment process first to determine if they would benefit or not. Vivitrol reduces the cravings for heroin, so when they get out, they hopefully have a chance of staying off heroin. Tri-County will be doing some follow-up with them on their release from jail.
“Earlier this year, we assisted in forming a heroin coalition comprised of court personnel, judges, probation, parole, prosecutors, mental health, health department, hospital personnel, substance abuse counselors, and faith-based groups. By bringing all of the stakeholders together who are dealing with this massive problem I am confidant that some real good will come of it. I do know this, we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem and we are all going to have work together as a community to confront this serious public health issue.
ANDERSON: As the elected Miami County Sheriff the heroin issue will not be a topic for political gain. In my administration we will address the heroin/opioid epidemic that has affected many families and friends in our county on a constant basis. I will establish a more productive relationship with area Narcotic Task Forces in this county and others so we can work to shut down the accessibility of these life-damaging drugs. As sheriff, we will work closely with the courts, probation, Recovery Council and Tri-County Board of Mental Health to help those that are fighting the battle with opioid and heroin abuse. This problem does not have a quick fix. I am dedicated to fighting this fight on every level.”
• Body cameras
DUCHAK: “I’m 110 percent in favor of body cameras,” Duchak said. “We are actively evaluating things. We are kind of in a holding pattern. Manufacturers know there’s going to be mandate at some point — either state or federal — for these. They are putting a massive amount of money into research and development in this equipment. So we want to be able to leverage the best equipment once a mandate does come out. There should be a lot more federal and state dollars, if we can leverage those funds so we don’t have our taxpayers having to fund everything.”
Duchak said the technology is changing rapidly to reduce the size of a body camera to the size of a button.
“We are kind of waiting to leverage the best in technology and then there should be some funds to help us offset,” he said. “I think they are a good thing.”
REECE: “I like the idea of body cameras. I like the idea of being able to protect our officers,” Reece said. “I think the public’s perception of them though has been skewed a little bit … Many people in the public think we should be outfitted and wired with body cameras so that way they can make sure (law enforcement) is not doing A, B and C to people. But if you go to that same group of people and say, ‘I want to put a camera and videotape everything that’s going on, on this street,’ those same people sometimes will go absolutely ballistic about the fact we shouldn’t be recorded. Again, the hypocrisy is there. The cameras to me serve a very useful purpose in law enforcement.”
Reece said he would research funding and the latest technology before outfitting the sheriff’s department with the body cameras.
Reece said deputies are used to being outfitted with cameras and microphones, so adding one more element to their documentation is “nothing new.”
Reece said he would use his leadership staff to review tapes once a month to ensure the officer and the public’s safety is being maintained in a professional manner.
“I think it also will help reduce complaints on officers,” Reece said.
COOPER: Cooper said he believes body cameras for officers are very important.
“That’s for not only the citizens’ protection, but the officers’ protection,” Cooper said. “Everything is based on funding, so I would seek grants to get that implemented.”
Cooper also agreed how fast the technology for body cameras is changing, much like when officers outfitted cruisers with video equipment, which was first by tape and then moved to downloading video in the parking lot.
ANDERSON: “It’s a good tool. It’s something that has be to looked at in a broad sense,” Anderson said. Anderson said the department would need to research how to afford the maintenance, storage, replacement, retention and software that is needed to keep the body cameras functioning. “It’s not like it’s a silver bullet that’s going to fix everything.”
Anderson said he would use the accreditation policies to help shape the department’s video retention procedures for deputies.
“A lot of departments jump into this and the next thing you know they have 40 new body cameras and next thing they know, they’ve filled their server up in two weeks — now I need $70,000 in storage to run this — so there’s a lot to take into account,” Anderson said.
• Candidate biographies
A retired Troy Police Department captain with 31 years of experience, Anderson began his career with Troy P.D. in 1984.
Born in Troy, Anderson is a 1981 graduate of Troy High School and attended Wright State University.
Anderson was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1993. In 1999, he moved into the administrative sergeant position, where he maintained the accreditation files and also became an assessor for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
In 1998, Anderson, then a sergeant, was charged with domestic violence following an alleged altercation with his then-girlfriend on Dec. 19, 1997. The victim claimed Anderson held the muzzle of a gun under her chin following an argument. Anderson was suspended on Dec. 19, 1997, by Chief Bill Frank and he was reinstated by the city safety and service director on Dec. 31. According to court records, the case, in which Anderson pleaded not guilty, was dismissed in Miami County Municipal Court on Sept. 8, 1999. Anderson filed a grievance and won, overturning the 10-day suspension and the department’s demotion in a ruling in May 1999.
“For the record, I would like to add that not only was the case dismissed and all internal discipline overturned, but after that incident, I was not only promoted to captain, but I was selected to attend the FBI National Academy after a thorough background check and vetting process. I was also selected to be named acting chief on numerous occasions when Chief Charles Phelps was out of town for lengthy engagements,” Anderson said.
Anderson resides in Monroe Township with his wife, Karen. The Andersons have three adult children and two grandchildren and they attend Victory Church in Tipp City.
More information about Anderson’s candidacy and his professional background can be found on his website www.chrisanderson4sheriff.com, and Facebook page “Elect Chris Anderson for Sheriff for Miami County Sheriff,” or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With 37 years of law enforcement service, retired Miami County Sheriff’s Office Captain Steven E. Cooper said he is committed to being a full-time sheriff.
Cooper was candid that he wasn’t ready to retire, but due to the state’s retirement system, he had to step down in 2011.
Cooper resides in Tipp City with his wife of 44 years, Mary Ann, and they have one adult son, Keith.
He can be found on Facebook at “Cooper for Sheriff.”
Duchak, a long-time resident of Miami County, began his law enforcement career as patrolman with the Covington Police Department in 1987.
Duchak was hired by the Miami County Sheriff’s Office as a road deputy in 1990. He served in the detective division, was promoted to road patrol sergeant in 1998 and then to lieutenant in 2000. He was promoted to administrative captain in 2006 and transferred to road patrol captain in 2009. Sheriff Cox promoted Duchak to chief deputy in 2011 to present.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, Duchak is considered an “at-will” or fiduciary employee. He is allowed to seek the sheriff’s office because he is not a classified employee and has the support of Sheriff Cox to run for his seat.
Duchak resides in Troy with his wife and their two children.
For questions or comments, Duchak can be reached at email@example.com or visit www.electduchakforsheriff.com.
Law enforcement veteran and U.S. Army Reserve Commander Paul Reece said his military career and training will benefit the residents of Miami County if he is elected sheriff.
Reece is currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserve as Commander of the 375th Criminal Investigation Division in Columbus. Reece said his military obligations of two weeks a year and one weekend of month of service will be done on his own time and will not affect his service as sheriff if elected. If his unit happens to be called to active service, Reece said he would stay behind and not go with the unit as he has done in the past. Reece said he plans to continue to serve five more years in the Army Reserves to pursue a promotion with his more than 20 years of service.
Reece and his wife, Denise, reside in Piqua. They have raised six children and 10 grandchildren.
For a list of Reece’s military and law enforcement information and more information about his campaign, visit www.VoteReece.com