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Deputies on the road as much as possible

Cary Ashby • Jul 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a two-part series based on separate “ride-alongs” that Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby did with the Huron County Sheriff’s Office.

The first thing a Huron County sheriff’s deputy does to start his or her shift is check his or her voice mail, email and mailbox.

“That’s where you get your information,” Lt. Bill Duncan said.

Next, deputies need to check in the roll call room to see if any civil papers or new warrants need to be served and if the sheriff’s office has any “BOLOs” (people for whom they need to “be on the look out”). Posted on the nearby board are the “read and sign” documents.

“A lot of them are procedural clarifications,” Duncan said. “We work with so many other departments — communication is critical.”

After hearing about the latest happenings and updates from other deputies, it’s time to hit the road. Duncan said the shift change is an opportunity for incoming deputies to share information with “the outgoing shift.” In Sheriff Todd Corbin’s administration, patrol coverage is divided between the southern and northern part of the county. 

“Our goal is to be (at) the station as little as possible,” Duncan said. “Some of my duties keep me in the office, but I’d rather be on the road.” 

While on patrol, deputies have the discretion of what their focus will be — whether it’s monitoring traffic/making traffic stops, searching for possible criminal activity and/or following up on their cases. Duncan said generally, deputies tend to do what they enjoy most, which also ends up being what they do best.

Duncan, a sheriff’s detective for several years, prefers to look for criminal activity or what he called “observed criminal indicators.” Often, that means he is studying how people react to seeing him and his cruiser. In a normal situation, people will make eye contact with him, “continue about their business” and “sometimes they will nod,” he said.

In each deputy’s assigned cruiser is a laptop computer equipped with the Alert system. It includes any information typed in by dispatchers. By monitoring it, deputies know what calls and reports are being handled by the sheriff’s office as well as all the local fire and police departments. The Alert system also indicates what deputies or officers are handling those calls.

“The ambulance services are on here too,” Duncan said.

Since he is a shift supervisor, he must keep an eye on all the calls. The lieutenant also makes decisions about sending deputies to a complaint, based on how close they are and if it seems appropriate to have multiple officers at the scene.

“We have to be prepared to respond to that,” Duncan said.

Over the course of nearly two hours, the deputy traveled through Norwalk and Monroeville. He also was on Washington, Drake and Old State roads, Ohio 601, Greenwich Milan Townline, Hartland Center and Zenobia roads and finally U.S. 20.

One of his first stops was a house under foreclosure on Elm Street in Norwalk. Nobody answered his knock on the door. Duncan noted what he did on the Alert system.

Starting in July, Duncan will move from the first shift and supervise the second-shift deputies twice a week. He enjoys the variety, saying “it keeps it fresh for everybody.”

“Daytime calls can be mundane (while) night calls can be alcohol-fueled,” Duncan said. “Night cops have a very clear bond because when everyone else is asleep, they are backing each other up.”

While in Clarksfield Township, the deputy decided to monitor traffic from the parking lot at the United Methodist Church. He was parked only a very few minutes. Duncan said he heard a loud muffler and since he saw the person speed away from the intersection, it seemed somewhat suspicious.

As he caught up to the Jeep Cherokee eastbound on Zenobia Road, he checked the license plate and learned the person lived nearby. That’s where the driver was headed, so Duncan pulled into the driveway behind him.

Duncan got out of his cruiser and greeted the driver and his passenger. They smiled and shook hands. During a one-minute conversation, Duncan said he advised the driver about the loud muffler and was told it would get checked.

With that, the deputy was back in his vehicle and returned to patrol.

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