A third individual has entered the race for the Republican nomination for Brown County Sheriff.
On Aug. 22, Mt. Orab police officer Reggie McKenzie announced his candidacy for the position of sheriff.
“I was approached by two different groups of people and I told them I’d give it some serious consideration,” McKenzie said during a phone interview. “Everything just came in line. I was looking at whether I’d be able to win and do a good job in the office.”
McKenzie is a Ripley High School graduate who served 27 years in the Marine Corps, retiring at the position of Master Sergeant. It’s the eighth highest rank for a non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. He served tours of duty in Japan, South Korea, and in Mali, in West Africa.
After retiring from the Marine Corps in 2005, McKenzie returned to Brown County with his wife and two children to be closer to his parents. From 2005 through 2009, McKenzie served as the Brown County Dog Warden. From 2006 through 2012, he ran a small business with the opening of a Sears Hometown store. He has been an officer with the Mt. Orab Police Department since 2008, and he graduated with a bachelors degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati in 2013. He is also both the resource officer for the W.E.S.T. program (Working to Empower Students Together) at Western Brown High School and he serves as the Brown County Veterans Service Commissioner.
McKenzie explained that while a Marine Corps sergeant, he both trained marines in marksmanship skills, physical fitness, and biochemical and nuclear warfare, among other things, as well as run combat operation training exercises if the marines were getting prepared for combat.
“I was in charge of making sure battalions could fight and survive in the battle field,” McKenzie said. “Anywhere from between 250-500 Marines (at a time).”
If elected Sheriff, McKenzie plans to lean heavily on his military leadership experience to help guide the BCSO in a new direction.
“As a typical military guy going to a duty station, I would approach (being sheriff) in the same manner,” McKenzie said. “,I would observe, watch, and see what works, what doesn’t work, get the deputies’ opinions, and come up with what I would think is a better solution. I would constantly assess the process.”
McKenzie said that he believes the BCSO is composed of three agencies, the jail, the administration, including investigators, and the road patrol. He said that he believed both the administration and the jail could use a number of reforms and fixes.
“There’s the jail, which we all know is a big problem,” McKenzie said. “They don’t have adequate supervision there. I would look at a standard operating procedures according to the Ohio jail standards. That should be in place. I don’t know if it is. There’s still leadership issues there.”
Regarding BCSO detectives and other investigators, McKenzie said, “I’m not saying there’s not a need for investigators but I think the man power can be used more wisely.”
While there has been some discussion about building a new county jail, McKenzie is in favor of extending the current building and finding other ways to house prisoners.
“One of the avenues I would like to look at are renovations to the jail, fixing equipment that doesn’t work properly, and building small blocks in the back,” McKenzie said.
As a police officer, McKenzie is well aware of the drug abuse epidemic that has flooded Brown County in recent years. He said he would continue to support the Brown County Task Force as well as the work that the Brown County Prosecutor’s Office is doing to help curb drug trafficking and possession in the county.
“I think what we need to do is to work cooperatively with the prosecutor, municipality police departments, the judges, and the people in Brown County,” McKenzie said, adding that it’s a problem affecting everyone in the county, whether directly or indirectly. “What the Drug Task Force is doing now is scratching deep into the drug dealers. Whatever support they need I would throw their way. So far this seems to be the only effective tool we have at our disposal.”
In light of recent events around the nation regarding the relationship between law enforcement and the public, McKenzie stated proudly that he is a firm believer in community policing.
“I want the community to become more involved with the police officers, and have more contact with them. (I want it to be) more of a core operation with the community,” McKenzie said.
With a three-person race, and off the back of last year’s controversial Juvenile/Probate Court judge campaign, McKenzie said that he would not run a negative campaign, and he personally liked the other two candidates. But he believes that his experience in the military and leadership ability gives him a leg up over the competition.
“I’m a professionally trained leader by the Marine Corps and I have quite a few years experience as a leader,” McKenzie said. “So with me, you get true professional leadership.”