There’s a new sheriff in town.
Tom Howard, a long-time Wheeling Police officer, has now taken over the reins as Ohio County Sheriff.
He has a list of priorities, including being open and transparent, and having good community relations.
Sheriff Howard says he’ll be out patrolling just like the deputies, but he won’t be watching them.
He says he will not micro-manage. He’ll let them do their jobs.
The vehicles will have a new look. No more unmarked cars.
Sheriff Tom Howard says every cruiser will be marked to send a message to the public and to criminals.
“It becomes a big crime deterrent for people. And they know that the help is out there, and that they’re being protected,” said Sheriff Howard.
He says they’ll be out patrolling, not just outlying areas, but all over Ohio County.
“And the cities are part of the county, so the officers will be out everywhere. Wheeling Island, East Wheeling, Bethlehem, Valley Grove,” said Sheriff Howard.
Sheriff Howard wants his officers to be happy because that will have an important spin-off effect.
“Everybody has grumpy days. If everybody’s out there working together and they have a good time, they’re out there doing their job, interaction with the public will be a lot better. That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to help people. We’re not here to hurt people, we’re here to help people and that’s what it’s all about,” said Sheriff Howard.
He’d like to see a resource officer in every school, even the elementary schools, and he’s checking out grants.
“When you start little, it makes it a lot easier as they get older,” said Sheriff Howard.
The new sheriff says we need more drug treatment facilities, rather than more arrests of drug users.
“But we need to get the dealers. The users need treatment. We need to help them. Incarcerating everybody is not the answer. So we need to get treatment and help them out as much as we can,” said Sheriff Howard.
Howard has been a school resource officer for six years, and D.A.R.E. teacher for ten.
He is also the father of three children and believes in a strong presence in the schools.