THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
A new sheriff should mean refreshing changes for the Lucas County department — and the community.
John Tharp, 64, a former Toledo police detective and a major under retired Sheriff James Telb, took the oath of office Monday, becoming the first new sheriff in Lucas County in nearly three decades. Mr. Telb, 73. who first took office in 1985, did not seek re-election.
With a history of community service, Mr. Tharp should lead a department that is more engaged, open, and responsive. His pledge to streamline the department and delay appointing a chief major was prudent. His tenure also provides an opportunity for new cooperative efforts with Toledo police, as both departments face formidable challenges with rising violence and shrinking budgets.
Mr. Tharp rose to power quietly, a path befitting his humble and self-effacing manner. A Democrat from Monclova Township, he ran unopposed for sheriff in November.
Before joining the sheriff’s department in 1997, Mr. Tharp worked for the Toledo Police Department for 25 years, including stints in the vice metro drug unit, the homicide squad, and the gang task force. He also served as a liaison with Toledo Public Schools.
A U.S. Army veteran, Mr. Tharp served as a combat medic during the Vietnam War.
Popular with people inside and outside the department, Mr. Tharp understands the importance of good relations between law enforcement and the community. He helped bring the department into the Books 4 Buddies program, which collected thousands of books for young people, especially males. Deputies handed out some of them at community sites, including low-income housing projects. He told a columnist for The Blade last fall that he advocated for the program because it not only promoted literacy, but also improved relations between young people and law enforcement.
Mr. Tharp won a Jefferson Award for community service last year for founding a deputy mentoring program in TPS. In 2007, he was president of Advocates for Victims and Justice Inc.
During 1999-2000, he led the Old Newsboys Goodfellows Association.
With budgets tightening, Mr. Tharp will need the respect and cooperation of the men and women who work for him. Judging from the reception he received in an overflowing courtroom at the Lucas County Courthouse, he’s off to a good start.