A fourth person has entered the race for the Republican nomination for Brown County Sheriff.
Lake Waynoka Police Chief Gordon Ellis announced his candidacy on Sept. 22 for the nomination for Sheriff. Ellis is a career police officer and served as a police chief for approximately 18 years in three different cities, before retiring to Sardinia to be even closer to his and his wife’s parents.
In 2010, Lake Waynoka approached him and offered him the chief position, which he accepted.
More recently, he was asked to consider running for Sheriff, which he agreed to do after much consideration.
“I was originally approached and asked to consider running,” Ellis said during a phone interview. “I spoke with my wife and we gave it great thought. The more I realized if you can make a difference and a positive impact then you should do it, so that’s why I’m running.”
In addition to his past police career, the 54-year-old Ellis served four years in the U.S. Army, spending two years in the 101st Airborne Division and another two years serving in Germany. While in the Army, Ellis picked up a Bachelor’s in Science degree from the State University of New York, and later he earned two Master’s Degrees, one from Muskingum College and another in international studies from the U.S. Army War College.
After leaving the Army as a colonel, he joined the Ohio National Guard and passed his training to become an officer. He was deployed abroad three more times, first to Kosovo in 2004-2005, then to Kuwait and Iraq in 2008, and finally to Afghanistan in 2012.
He’s awaiting promotion to Brigadier General after his promotion packet was approved by U.S. Congress.
“And you can kind of tell from my background, I’m pretty busy, and it’s true, but if you want to get something done, find a busy man,”said Ellis. “Generally speaking, when you have something that needs to be done, there are folks that will always bee able to step forward. I just want to see forward progress in the Sheriffs’ department.”
Ellis identified three points that he would emphasize if he’s elected to be the next sheriff- professionalism, cooperation, and a citizen-centered approach to law enforcement.
“Number one, (professionalism is) providing the best trained, best equipped Sheriff’s deputies within resource constraints,” Ellis said. “It starts with myself and then pervades throughout the organization.
“Number two is cooperation, and by that I mean cooperation arrangements with other law enforcement agencies in the county and within the county departments. Because of the limited amount of resources, cooperation becomes paramount and allows us to extend our reach to serve the citizens in the best manner possible.
“And number three, a citizen-centered approach. In my mind, a call to service begin and ends with a citizen in mind. Everything we do has to meet the citizen’s requirement in the county. I want them to treat every call as if it’s your aunt or brother making the call. I want to put the needs of the citizens as the primary focus for response for the sheriff’s office.”
Whoever becomes the next sheriff, they’ll have their hands full dealing with a couple of major problems that are taking up much of the time of the current administration; overcrowding in the Brown County Adult Detention Center and the large amount of drug abuse that takes place within county lines.
In terms of a solution for the jail, Ellis said that he would try and house inmates at another facility, cooperating with the courts to make sure that they can be as efficient as possible in terms of who is coming into the jail and who is leaving, even if just for hearings.
On the drug problem, Ellis plans to lean on his own experience from when he served as the police chief of Franklin, Ohio. His department did some investigation work and some reverse buys, and established a protocol where by if a drug dealer arrived at a certain location, they were immediately arrested. The Franklin Police Department later learned that word had spread, and the remaining drug dealers were avoiding Franklin to traffic and distribute their narcotics.
“It’s been my experience that drug crime requires a two pronged approach,” Ellis said. “One is education, such as D.A.R.E. or drug diversion education programs. The key there is to divert young people from drug activity before they’re involved and you save thousands of dollars downstream. If you can divert them before they get involved you save a lot of money.
“Second is enforcement using the drug task force, and developing targeting strategies for that. We may want to look at where the propensities of the drug crimes are occurring and focus your resources on that. It’s probably going to take a combination of education, enforcement, and creative solutions to attack that problem.”
With so many candidates in the race, it’s tough for each one to separate themselves from the other. Ellis believes that his past experience in law enforcement, the military, and his education gives him a leg up in the campaign.
“I think each candidate brings something to the table,” Ellis said. “What I bring to the table is a history of education and experience that has prepared me well. I’ve managed multi-million dollar police budgets before, and I’ve written successful grants before. So I have that experience behind me. And as far as leadership, I’ve been able to engage in leadership in some very trying environments.”