DARKE COUNTY – This week (May 11-17) is National Police Week, celebrating the work of police officers and administrators across the United States. Darke County has seven policing departments, one located in nearly each of the larger villages, one in the city of Greenville, and the Darke County Sheriff’s Office.
The Darke County Sheriff’s Office has the “biggest job,” Chief Frank Shapiro, Ansonia Police Department, noted, but every department plays an important role in its community, he added.
“I can’t say we’re any more important than any of the other services provided by a municipality,” Shapiro commented. “Certainly fire, rescue and ambulance resources are extremely important. I guess we fit in with the rest of the service agencies…we’re just providing another service to the village.”
“To keep it simple and concise, we are here to protect people,” Shapiro added.
Chief Shapiro, who came from a larger department, said he appreciates the role he’s able to play at the Ansonia Fire Department – not only is he the chief of police, he’s Ansonia’s day-time officer, making him a patrol officer, evidence technician, “you name it,” he laughed.
“I don’t have the luxury, if you’d call it that, of sitting in the office, with many larger departments, the chief of police is largely restricted to administrative duties,” Shapiro commented.
Officer Kyle Yount, a part-time officer with New Madison Police Department, said that “even in a small community like New Madison, the public doesn’t see what goes on,” but it’s important for the police department to receive feedback so that they know they’re doing their job well.
“[Feedback] also gives us ideas of how we can approach people and reach out, and get out there and do preventative policing along with enforcement,” Yount noted. “That’s what a lot of people think we do, enforcement – they see an officer and they check their speed – but they don’t see us going into the schools, talking to students about safety. We build a relationship with the students, and that’s very important.”
Policing is more than building relationships within the community, but those relationships are very important in the role that police officers play, Shapiro explained.
“Villages, especially in places like Darke County, tend to like having, if you will, a town cop,” Shapiro commented. “They feel they get personal service that way, as opposed to maybe not knowing the deputy on call…If someone you know calls on you, you’re going to feel more comfortable.”
Part of building relationships is debunking the myths, Shapiro added. He said when officers go into schools, children often ask about the violent situations, when 99 percent of police work in rural areas doesn’t escalate to violence, he said.
“Most people have a misconception about police departments,” Shapiro commented.
Darke County Sheriff’s Office covers the entire county; village police departments have jurisdiction over their village, but rely on the county for assistance, Shapiro stated. DCSO runs the jail – used by every agency in the county; they also dispatch for every agency except Greenville City, which operates on a similar frequency to keep all agencies in the county on the same page, Shapiro commented.
“Obviously our ultimate goal is to make our community safer,” said Captain Randy Linkous, Darke County Sheriff’s Office. “We do that through a variety of means, whether that’s patrol, deterring crime, traffic stops, taking unwanted drug dealers off the streets and trying to get help for addicts - that’s all in a day’s work for a deputy.”
Along with Darke County’s paid police force are those who volunteer their time to help make Darke County a safer place, with five unpaid auxiliary officers rounding out the New Madison Police Department, and members of the Darke County Sheriff’s Patrol volunteering their time and expertise to the county, among others.
“I’m extremely proud of all of Darke County’s deputies,” said Capt. Linkous. “They go out and work hard every day. They do encounter dangerous situations. They’re a very professional group of men and women, who do a great job for the residents of Darke County.”