Q & A with Thomas Cronenwett, candidate for Morrow County Sheriff


Staff report



What are the major issues facing your county and what would you do about them if elected?

Morrow County, like other counties in the state, is plagued with the ongoing war against illegal drugs. The one at the top of our “most wanted” list is Heroin. I have advised friends, family, colleagues and my police academy students that Heroin is blind…it does not see rich or poor, color, sex, or age. It serves one purpose only and that is to destroy your life and if not stopped, eventually take it from you. Ohio is rapidly becoming number 2 in the nation for drug overdoses and Heroin is the number one culprit. Counties surrounding Morrow are experiencing horrendous caseloads of Heroin trafficking, abuse, overdose, and the crimes that follow it and the drug is knocking harder on our county’s door everyday.

Currently, and for six years, I have operated the K-9 Unit in the Village of Mount Gilead. In addition, I am also a State Evaluator for K-9s. I demo the K-9 Unit for drug prevention/educational purposes for schools and civic groups, and complete drug sweeps, as needed, in and outside the county, most recently by request for Marion City’s 9 school buildings and grounds during school hours. Our K-9 Unit assisted one of our officers on a traffic violation stop in Mount Gilead where 528 balloons of heroin were seized. The violator was a 58-year-old man with no criminal history who was attempting to help his brother sell the drugs. Both went to prison. On other occasions, the K-9 Unit assisted in the seizing of over 2 pounds of marijuana and in so-doing, a stolen firearm was discovered, and the K-9 has actually done the “apprehending” of the suspect.

A pro-active approach to the drug problem, particularly toward the suppliers and dealers is necessary in order to keep this drug at bay. Stronger penalties for these people need to be strictly enforced. Obviously, law enforcement must be evermore aware of the changes in trends and evermore vigilant when addressing those that ignore the law; that includes the abuser, as well as, those that prey upon them.

The federal government is currently working on releasing $5 billion in grant funding to address the treatment of the opiate/Heroin user. I believe a strict treatment regimen, as ordered by the court, can be hopeful and helpful for those that are serious about changing their abusive and/or addictive lifestyles. However; many years of experience has taught me the truth in the old proverb “you can drag a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. Only those that are sincere about changing and are willing to commit to the treatment they need and a lifestyle conducive to that change truly benefit.

Due to the high crime rate in the Southern part of the county, if I am elected, the Fire Chief of the Big Walnut Fire Department in Marengo is willing to help accommodate facility space there for a deputy when not on patrol at no high cost. This will allow a much-needed officer presence to the area, a much-reduced response time, and better chances for apprehensions to an area prone to ever-increasing crime over the years. The statistics and victims speak for themselves there.

I believe building stronger communities by re-establishing the “protect and serve” attitude among law enforcement, creating better opportunities for communication between law enforcement and the citizens it serves, and better cooperation and continuity between local law enforcement agencies in order to BEST “protect and serve” their citizens will help deter these violators from coming to OUR county to sell their illegal drugs and/or commit burglaries and other crimes. I also believe it will take the whole county working together to effectively address this problem, as well as, progress the county.

Why are you the best-qualified candidate for the position you are seeking?

After college (majored in music and secondary in primary education), I attended Police Academy in Mansfield and currently have 23 years of law enforcement experience, 21 of which I have tenured at the Village of Mount Gilead’s Police Department, and 12 of those years as a sergeant. I have been a Police Academy Instructor for Marion Technical College for over 17 years and have taught various law enforcement classes in and outside the county over the years. Currently and for the last 6 years, I have operated the K-9 Unit for the Village of Mount Gilead and I am a K-9 Handler, Trainer, and State Evaluator for K-9s. A founding member of Morrow County’s Tactical Team formed in 1995 (utilized for high risk warrants, drug raids, and barricaded persons), I filled the roles and performed the duties of training officer and team leader for 19 years and 14 years, respectively. As the team leader, I was responsible for creating policies and procedures for the team.

My life’s work has been law enforcement and I have dedicated my career to this community during the good years and the hard years. I did not give up on my community and the community did not give up on me. Instead, I stayed and learned how to appreciate what I had and how to listen and how to teach others the things I have learned. I purchased a home here in Morrow County to raise my two sons on my own and this is our home. I have always been dedicated to progress the good of Morrow County and if elected, I will be here for the long haul…not just to use the position as a resume’ builder.

What else would you like to say to voters in your county?

Transparency in government is important and required by law and if elected, my administration will be remembered for it. As Sheriff, I will be researching and applying for alternate sources of funding and applying for ALL the FREE training, equipment, and educational tools Morrow County is already entitled to, just for the asking, by the Sheriff’s office, with no strings attached. Updating policies and procedures to bring the Sheriff’s Office current is a must, if I am elected. Being fiscally sound goes without saying.

Being trusted as Sheriff is a great honor. Having the responsibility of being Sheriff is a great responsibility and I believe it requires a “seasoned” law enforcement officer at the right age with better than average qualifications including years of law enforcement experience and leadership skills and years of leadership experience.

Believing in the citizens’ rights to being protected, feeling safe, and getting the bad guy…these are the goals. Being dedicated to a sense of community, progression of community, and encouraging more community involvement to that end is how I believe we can best achieve those goals.

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Staff report