By Jill Gosche
FOR THE REVIEW TIMES
Fred Stevens, who has served as chief of Tiffin Police Department for eight years, is to appear on the Republican Primary Election ballot as a candidate for Seneca County sheriff on March 17.
According to Stevens, he has worked on a multi-million dollar budget, has participated in union negotiations, has written and implemented policies and procedures and has handled critical incidents.
“I’ve done public service since I was 17 years old,” he said.
If elected, Stevens’ chief deputy would be Detective Chuck Boyer, who has been the unit commander of Seneca County Drug Task Force — METRICH Enforcement Unit for more than 20 years.
Stevens spent four years in active duty Army service, three years in the Army Reserve and three years in Ohio Military Reserve. He served in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.
Stevens had been a juvenile detention officer at Wood County Juvenile Detention Center, was a corrections officer and transport officer at Erie County Sheriff’s Office, was a part-time police officer at Marblehead Police Department, was a part-time chief in Republic and attended the FBI National Academy.
Stevens started his full-time job at Tiffin Police Department in 1993 and has worked as a patrol officer, sergeant and patrol lieutenant. He served as Tiffin Police Department’s interim chief and has served as its chief for eight years.
Stevens said he felt it’s a good time to step forward and do something for public service again.
He said he feels a qualified person needs to lead the position from Day 1, and it shouldn’t be on-the-job learning experience. That person needs to have the training, education and experience to go when they’re sworn in on the first day, he said.
Stevens said he feels that as a resident of Seneca County, he wants the best qualified candidate to lead the office, help reduce liability and move it in a positive direction.
“I have five commitments that I would like to bring out there,” he said.
The commitments are to community, professionalism, fiscal responsibility, quality of life issues and accessibility and accountability.
Stevens said he would not get rid of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement contract, would not get rid of village contracts and would not change the way that some of the jail employees are allowed to work at some of the other villages.
Stevens said he wants to move the sheriff’s office forward with new ideas, vision and leadership.
Bureau of Adult Detention does inspections at the jail, and Seneca County is failing 30 or 40 of the standards each year, he said.
There have been three lawsuits against the sheriff’s office in nine years, he said.
Stevens said another area of positive change he would bring is in an evaluation process. He said he knows retired deputies and retired correction officers who worked there their entire career and never had an evaluation.
He questioned how an employee would know where the standards are.
“How do you know where you rate … unless you’re evaluated,” he said.
Stevens said he loves Tiffin and Seneca County. He said the 27 years he has lived here is the longest he has lived anywhere in his life.
Stevens said he thinks it’s time for him to “exit stage left.”
“Let somebody else improve on what I’ve done here. … I will get along with that (new police chief),” he said.
David Pahl, captain at Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, says he is running for sheriff to provide the continuing safety and security to the residents of Seneca County.
Pahl, who is to appear on the Republican Primary Election ballot March 17, said he is a lifelong resident of Seneca County, and, being from rural Seneca County, he knows and understands that everyone wants to be safe and feel safe in their homes.
“My entire career is at the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office,” he said.
Pahl said believes spending his entire career at the sheriff’s office qualifies him to be the most qualified to continue the great work Sheriff Bill Eckelberry has spent his 38-year career accomplishing.
If elected, Pahl’s chief deputy would be Detective Sgt. Don Joseph, who is assigned to Seneca County Drug Task Force — METRICH Enforcement Unit.
Pahl said Joseph was born and raised in Seneca County, is a proven leader with 22 years of service at the sheriff’s office, has a master’s degree in justice administration and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Pahl started his career in 2000.
He was hired as a corrections officer at Seneca County Jail, graduated from a peace officers academy in 2002 and was assigned to the warrants and transports division in 2003.
He was put in charge of the warrants and transports division about nine years ago, was promoted to sergeant in 2014 and became the captain — second in charge of all operations — at the end of July.
Pahl said his expertise and experience is under jail operations, which consumes almost two-thirds of the sheriff’s office budget.
“We have 55 employees currently working in the corrections division,” he said.
Pahl said he was focused on furthering his career when Eckelberry took office in 2010. The idea of him running for sheriff when Eckelberry retired has been an ongoing idea for at least the last five years.
“I would never run against Bill,” he said.
Pahl said his goal, once elected sheriff, is to increase the number of road deputies. He said he wold like, in the first four years, to be able to put on three road patrol deputies and add another detective to handle major cases.
Pahl said he also would like to increase the jail staff with three corrections officers.
He said he has a plan to increase the staffing, without adding any additional burden to the county’s current budget, through federal funds.
Pahl said he would like to grow relationships with local law enforcement, fire departments and EMS personnel with joint training, and he would like to improve communications with the entities to provide better response times and services.
Pahl said he has direct knowledge and hands-on experience he believes a sheriff needs to have to run the sheriff’s office. He said he knows the day-to-day operations.
Pahl said he believes that running the sheriff’s office differs in so many ways from running a police department.
“There is a huge difference between 6.2 square miles and 550 square miles that we currently provide protection and service to,” he said.
Pahl said he farms in rural Seneca County. The work occurs on 248 acres of his family’s farm.
“I believe that is what started me in being able to budget money,” he said.
Pahl said he was born and raised in Seneca County. He and his wife have chosen to raise their family in rural Seneca County.
“This is where I call home. … I have deep roots in the community,” he said.
Matthew Huffman, a sergeant at Haskins Police Department since 2017, is to be on the Republican Primary Election ballot March 17.
Huffman, a former Seneca County Sheriff’s Office deputy, is seeking to be elected Seneca County’s next sheriff.
According to his resume, his duties at Haskins Police Department have included supervising the patrol and all law enforcement activities; supervising and training all newly employed officers; maintaining the evidence room; and coordinating community-wide policing events.
Huffman served as a road deputy at Seneca County Sheriff’s Office from 1998-2017 and served as the officer in charge of the third shift.
He served as a deputy sheriff and corrections officer at Seneca County Sheriff’s Office from 1998 to 1999.
He was responsible for monitoring housing units, alarms, intercoms, paging systems and closed-circuit televisions and monitoring inmates.
Huffman served as a deputy sheriff/special deputy for the sheriff’s office from 1992 to 1998, was an intake investigator/social worker for Seneca County Department of Human Services in 1997 and was a probation officer for Wood County Adult Probation Department in 1995 and 1996, according to his resume.
Huffman could not be reached for comment.