Sheriff, Police Working to Ensure Safe Celebration

By: 
JENNA GILBERT
Staff Writer

With the 50th anniversary of the moon landing quickly approaching, and the expectation of a lot of people coming to the area to experience the celebration at the first man on the moon’s hometown, security is one feature that isn’t being overlooked by the planning committees and local law enforcement agencies. Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon spoke to the New Bremen New Knoxville Rotary about how the sheriff’s office, the Wapakoneta Police Department and the local post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol will work together to ensure everyone has a fun and safe celebration of the historic moon landing. 
“That involves about six or seven meetings that we’ve been to,” Solomon said. “That’s with the Armstrong board, with the chamber board, with Wapak Police Department, all of them together … They’re still telling up to around 50,000 people, over basically a two week period of time, in Wapak and the surrounding areas.”
For law enforcement, this means no days off when it comes to the many celebrations coming up, starting as early as this week with the Hot Air Balloon Rally.
The sheriff’s office and Wapakoneta police will be sharing the coverage of the celebration downtown. Per usual, the sheriff’s deputies will cover anything that happens at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds, as they do during the county fair. They will also be lending at least two deputies to Wapakoneta as well as someone to drive around and assist as needed. 
“That’s kind of an agreement between Chief [Calvin] Schneider and I saying, ‘look, we’ll worry about balloon fest, you’ve got other things to worry about,’” he said. 
Also assisting with traffic control will be the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Solomon shared they will be assisting with any accident calls dispatch receives as deputies and police will be busy with the celebration, as well with the predicted backup that will happen on Interstate 75 at the Wapakoneta exit.
He added that groups such as their auxiliary and Explorer members will also be assisting with the celebrations. 
“We’ll put in a lot of overtime,” Solomon said. “Chief [Calvin] Schneider putting a lot of work into it with his office so that’s going to be a busy time for us, and then we run into the fair.”
Despite the increased police presence at the many celebrations coming up for the moon landing, Solomon encouraged everyone to check out the events that are happening. He also asked that everyone be nice and behave while celebrating as well. 
Beyond preparing for upcoming events, the sheriff also shared about all of the programs and duties the office performs on a regular basis.
His office is in charge of overseeing the county jail, which is a 72 bed facility that is staffed with 25 correctional officers, a full-time nurse, a part-time nurse, a jail counselor, three shift sergeants, a lieutenant, an administrator and kitchen staff. He added that on average, the jail houses about 80 to 85. They are equipped to house 11 female inmates and they are currently housing between 18 and 19. 
“I don’t see that changing,” he said of their inmate size. “Over the next few months, the state penitentiaries are, in my opinion, unloading. That comes back to the county, that comes back to the use of county money and it comes back to overcrowding of the local sheriff’s offices and jails.”
He estimates 87% to 90% of the inmates are there on drug related charges. He’s not including charges for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) but did say that number is including burglary and theft offenses as those are often committed because of drug addiction. 
On a positive note, he added the staff at the jail is highly trained in each of their areas to ensure they can provide for the needs of the inmates. 
Highlighting the nurse they have on staff, he said she is there to treat the inmates just like anyone else as they have needs that need to be attended to. 
“She also watches what they’re claiming because a lot of times when they come into jail they want good dope,” he said. “We try to keep our nurse and our doctor that comes in once a week, we try to keep them from just doctor shopping right in the jail.”
What many may not realize about those living inside the jail is, just like any other resident of the county, some may have special diet restrictions. He stressed that the facility doesn’t want the inmates becoming ill as a result of the food, or anything in the jail, as that could be a civil lawsuit. 
“The jail is inspected once a year,” he said. “We are health inspected two times — at least — a year. The health inspectors, when they come in will sometimes tell us ahead of time, sometimes they won’t tell us when they’re showing up. Something that is very good about our jail, the kitchen staff — since the jail was built in 1998 — has never failed a health inspection. That is unheard of in any jail facility.”
The sheriff’s office is also in charge of the sex offender registry for Auglaize County, where a list of registered offenders can be found on the sheriff’s website. They also run the DARE program for schools in the county, issue licenses to carry a concealed weapon (CCW), operate the Grand Lake Task Force which is responsible for the recent round up of several alleged drug traffickers and more.
More information about the sheriff’s office can be found online at AuglaizeCounty.org/sheriff.

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