MIAMI COUNTY — Two candidates are seeking the Miami County Sheriff’s office seat this Nov. 8 election.
In 2015, Sheriff Charles Cox announced he would not seek an eighth term in office. He was elected to seven consecutive terms and served 28 years as sheriff.
Independent candidate Joe Mahan ran for sheriff in 2008 and lost to Sheriff Cox.
Current Chief Deputy Dave Duchak won the Republican primary last March against three candidates with various law enforcement experience.
Mahan announced his intention to run for Miami County Sheriff as an Independent in January 2016.
The candidates recently shared their personal views on the county’s heroin epidemic, rural road patrol, and body cameras.
• Candidate biographies
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 protected] or visit www.electduchakforsheriff.com.
Mahan began his career in law enforcement as a Troy Police auxiliary officer before joining the Miami County Sheriff’s Officer in January 1977. Mahan served the majority of his career was in administration, rising through the ranks of corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain (jail administrator, detective section, road), and finally serving as chief deputy prior to his retirement.
Mahan retired as chief deputy in 2006. Mahan was discharged by Sheriff Cox after Mahan announced he would run for the sheriff’s office position after Cox announced he would be seeking another term in 2008. Mahan then retired in May 2006. He ran unsuccessfully against Cox in 2008.
Mahan declined to comment about a domestic incident in 2006 involving his ex-wife, Dee Mahan, who was Sheriff’s Cox administrative assistant. Mahan said the incident was “not relevant” to his current campaign.
He currently serves as the OPOTC-certified Basic Peace Officer Academy held at Edison State Community College in Piqua, as well as through his other law enforcement affiliations.
Following retirement from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, Mahan held a commission with Darke County as a special deputy through May 2008, then held a commission as a reserve deputy with Shelby County until February 2013. Mahan currently holds a commission as an officer with the Jackson Center Police Department.
For questions or comments, Mahan can be reached at [email protected] or visit www.ElectMahanSheriff.com.
• Heroin epidemic in Miami County
DUCHAK: “We are looking at three different fronts with stringent enforcement efforts on all fronts and continued collaboration with law enforcement agencies within and outside the county to include state and federal. I think that’s been evident recently with one of the largest drug busts in Miami County history down in Tipp City. These were major dealers, they were suppliers to dealers in Dayton. It was a two-year long investigation.
Sheriff Cox added a third narcotics detective position over 18 months ago. Deputies have been doing interdiction for users coming back into Miami County with heroin. In January, we partnered with several people in forming a heroin coalition. Law enforcement’s role is the jail. The jail is the largest detox facility in the county,” he said.
According to Duchak, the sheriff’s office partnered with Tri-County Mental Health and are offering the drug Vivitrol to those inmates addicted to heroin/opiates since the first of the year. The inmates are getting the Vivitrol tablet and Tri-County (Mental Health and Recover) is following up with them to get the shot, which lasts 30 days.
The sheriff’ office also helps to distribute the Heroin Coalition’s drug addiction resource guide. Deputies carry the guide with them to pass along to victims and their families. The resource guide is also distributed to inmates to seek help once they are released. The sheriff’s office also plans to partner with the city of Troy’s Quick Response Team who follows up with overdose victims in the unincorporated parts of the county.
“I think it’s a win-win with the outreach it helps victims and helps law enforcement,” Duchak said. “We are working on education both in the schools and with the public.”
Last May, road deputies began carrying Narcan in the cruisers.
“Our primary mission is the preservation of life. Do I think there should be consequences for the users? Yes. We are in law enforcement but we also in the business of saving lives,” Duchak said. “We serve a rural population and there are times we will get there before medics. We had two incidents it was used to resuscitate. It’s hitting every place in society from the 20-year-old girl who OD’d a few months ago to a middle age person. The Narcan is funded by the state of Ohio through the public health department so it’s not coming out of our budget. If we have a tool to save people’s lives, we are going to use it.”
MAHAN: Mahan said he plans to combat the heroin epidemic with early education and community involvement.
“When it comes to the heroin epidemic, I don’t have a problem with treating people when they are incarcerated,” Mahan said. “One is too many. The bottom line is that every time we come up with a drug, we come up with another drug to treat the drug. Where does it end?”
Mahan said he plans to education youth each month and talk about issues like heroin education and the dangers of drug use.
“This is where we get the kids involved,” Mahan said. “We can do education and do things where they have ownership in it and they buy into it. We all learn by example.”
“When it comes to the heroin epidemic is try to be proactive and we have to get the community involved,” he said. “The more interaction we have with the public the more information we can give.”
Mahan said Narcan is an effective tool to revive users, but questions how road deputies store the medication while on the road.
“Narcan only lasts so long depending on the dose they took, they can still go back into the high,” Mahan said. “I believe it’s a good thing (deputies) have access to it. I just have some questions how they are keeping it to where it’s a viable product.”
Mahan said he’d like to understand why addicts are abusing the drug to help educate the youth to abstain from drug use.
“The only way you can make a change is through education and that’s why I’m talking about getting out and talking to the youth. Get them out and doing something positive,” Mahan said. “Just like inmates in the jail. A busy inmate is a happy inmate.”
• Rural Patrol Issues
MAHAN: Mahan said he’d increase sheriff’s patrol in rural areas by implementing an auxiliary unit on a volunteer basis.
“They’d have full arrest powers, they’d have to get certified by the academy through the state. They’d have to keep their training up,” Mahan said. “They have an interest to serve that’s not being utilized. That’s an extra set of eyes.”
Mahan said communities like Fairfield County utilize the community watch groups.
Mahan said the “community watch group on wheels” could help officers on the scenes of accidents to help free up the deputies on patrol as well as serving as another arm of the sheriff’s office to assist citizens.
Mahan said the auxiliary group would utilize many of those who would like to volunteer to help the sheriff’s office.
“When it comes to protection it comes down to communication and visibility,” Mahan said. “You got to get out there and be visible. You are here to serve and protect and everybody should be getting equal coverage,” he said.
DUCHAK: Duchak said at least four deputies minimum are on patrol with upwards to seven deputies or additional personnel for “hot spot” and beat zones for patrol.
Duchak said the community outreach is a dated model and no longer works well since it passes deputy duties on to a community member.
“With respect to community outreach, (Mahan) stated he would appoint a community outreach person,” Duchak said. “All 48 of us are community outreach deputies. We are all expected to do community outreach and we all do. We do community checks at the schools. Deputies are always interacting with the public. “
Duchak said the sheriff’s administration serves as the “rudder” to conduct community outreach such as, crime prevention, K9 demonstrations and other interaction with the public at their request. All members of the sheriff’s office, on duty and off, serve as community outreach members at all times, Duchak said.
• Body cameras
DUCHAK: Duchak said three issues must be resolved before the sheriff’s office outfits its officers with body cameras.
“I’m fully in favor of body cameras because I think shows the great job our officers do,” Duchak said.
The first issue is cost and maintenance upkeep.
“One, we want to see if there will be state or federal dollars to come about because I think there probably will be, especially if it’s mandated. It’s very expensive. A lot of people think you just buy them and that’s it,” Duchak said. For example, Duchak said it costs approximately $500 per camera a year to maintain sheriff’s cruiser dash cameras.
“We are wanting to wait to leverage funding so the local tax payers don’t have to pay for it,” he said.
Duchak said many manufacturers are working on the new technology to make the body cameras small enough to fit on the lapel of the uniform.
“There is going to be new and better technologies, which is another reason I think it’s important to be patient and wait for the best,” Duchak said.
The third issue with body cameras is Ohio is working on amending public record information laws in regards to video captured on body cameras.
“There needs to be some exemption in place to protect the public because if not, the public may not be apt to sharing with us,” Duchak said. “All in all, I’m in favor of it, but it has to be done right.”
MAHAN: Mahan said the “verdict is still out” on body cameras for law enforcement and is concerned in regards to the public’s privacy.
“I understand there have been all these studies have found that the mere fact that you have a body camera on and its activated, the complaints have dropped ten-fold,” Mahan said. “If you know you are being recorded you are going to watch what you say versus the past.”
Mahan said the main issue he has with body cameras is privacy, such as documenting homes or responding to reports of disorderly conduct where nudity may be involved.
“They are recording everything in your home and that is all public record,” Mahan said. “It’s a double-edged sword. You are going to have to have a good policy in place. I’m not against them, but you have to have a policy in place and you also have to have the technology to redact or take certain elements out of that.”
Reach Melanie Yingst at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews