Soon-to-be retired Sheriff James Telb was honored Friday night at a dinner at SeaGate Convention Centre in downtown Toledo.
Sheriff Telb, who is stepping down Jan. 6, when his seventh and final term ends, was described by colleagues, friends, and dignitaries as a mentor and respected law enforcement officer.
Attended by nearly 400, the dinner was highlighted by toasts and awards for Mr. Telb, who began his career in law enforcement nearly 50 years ago.
The Lucas County commissioners bestowed a sandstone frog created by George Carruth Studios on Mr. Telb.
Commissioner Pete Gerken said: “He has served the county on many levels, as an educator, as a friend to many of us, as a public servant, and a guy who knows a lot about law enforcement who keeps us safe every night. Here is a gentleman, scholar, friend, and servant who is about to exit our stage. It is an honor to be here tonight to honor him.”
Sheriff Telb received a plaque from the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association recognizing his long career in law enforcement.
“I have always been impressed with his vast knowledge and ability to work with everyone,” said Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, who presented the award.
Major John Tharp, 63, a retired Toledo police officer who has worked in the sheriff’s office since 1997, was elected in November to replace Sheriff Telb.
A Democrat, Sheriff Telb, 73, became the county’s chief law enforcement officer in 1984.
The son of Lebanese immigrants, he graduated from Libbey High School, attended the University of Toledo, where he received his bachelor’s degree, master’s in business administration, and doctorate in philosophy.
He also received a master’s in police administration from City University of New York.
He was a professor of law enforcement and corrections when he ran for sheriff and continued teaching for many years.
Among his students in the 1970s at UT was Mike Navarre, retired Toledo police chief and current chief of the Oregon Police Department.
Chief Navarre said it was after he was appointed police chief in 1994 that he got to know Sheriff Telb.
“He really helped me immensely with all the politics, and there are a lot of politics that go along with being police chief,” he said. “He served as my mentor and my close adviser.
"I have the utmost respect for him. He certainly has earned his retirement. He has served the community well,” Chief Navarre said.
Sheriff Telb said he has mixed emotions as he enters his final weeks in office, and overall is proud of his accomplishments in law enforcement, especially as a mentor and teacher to young officers.
“It’s been a good run. I felt every day was a good day,” he said. “I thought I had a chance to impact the lives of a lot of people.”
Sheriff Telb said his plans for retirement are to focus on spending time with his family, including his six grandchildren.