For the first time in nearly three decades, Lucas County has a new sheriff.
John Tharp, a former Toledo police detective and one of three deputies holding the rank of major under former Sheriff James Telb, took the oath of office Monday to begin his term as sheriff in a well-attended ceremony in the Lucas County Courthouse.
Mr. Tharp, 64, a Democrat from Monclova Township, was elected without opposition in November. He replaces Mr. Telb, who first took office in 1985 and who did not seek re-election last year.
After being sworn in in Common Pleas Judge James Bates’ courtroom, Sheriff Tharp told an overflow crowd of well-wishers — many of them in sheriff’s deputy uniforms, as well as elected officials, friends, family, and political operatives — that he would never ask a deputy or corrections officer to do anything he had not done or would not do.
“I will be committed every day of the week to do the right thing for Lucas County as your sheriff,” he said. “Anything I can do for you or our office can do for you, we’re going to be there for you.”
In an interview afterward, Sheriff Tharp said that providing the services of housing jail inmates and combating crime while staying within budget will be his biggest challenge.
“It is no longer crime-free in the suburbs, and that’s mainly where the Lucas County sheriff’s office is, in the suburbs,” he said.
“Undesirables are going out and victimizing families and homes and properties, that’s our biggest challenge. The budget wasn’t as big of a problem when the sheriff took office 28 years ago. The last four or five years the budget has been really strained. We don’t have enough money.”
Sheriff Tharp said he attended a two-week training course in Columbus and will return in February for an additional required week.
For the last few years Sheriff Telb left vacant the post of chief deputy and had three majors overseeing administration, law enforcement, and corrections. Major Tharp was in charge of administration.
“I’m going to streamline and try to do more with less. I will not have a chief major right away,” Sheriff Tharp said.
Joining Sheriff Tharp for the oath-taking were his wife, Phyllis, a retired Toledo Public Schools principal, and daughter, Kati Tharp, 24. Mr. Tharp’s two sons, Andrew, 28, and John, 41, were not present.
Sheriff Telb, 73, a fellow Democrat who did not seek re-election last year, said he plans to spend time with his six grandchildren and may return to teaching at the college level part-time.
Mr. Tharp has been with the sheriff’s department since 1997, after retiring from the Toledo Police Department where he worked for 25 years.
His police assignments included the department’s vice metro drug unit, the homicide squad, liaison with Toledo Public Schools, and the gang task force. He is a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, in which he was a combat medic.
The sheriff was sworn in by Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros, who said, “I’m very pleased he’s in this position, and I’m sure he’s going to serve the people of Lucas County very well.” He called Sheriff Tharp “a man of great integrity, of great professionalism.”
Outgoing Sheriff Telb pinned the badge on Sheriff Tharp’s shirt. Sheriff Tharp saluted and the two embraced.
Also speaking at the ceremony were Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates, Judge Bates, County Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter, and Kati Tharp.
Mr. Tharp won a Jefferson Award for community service last year for founding a deputy mentoring program in Toledo Public Schools. In 2007 he was president of Advocates for Victims and Justice Inc.
During 1999-2000 he was president of the Old Newsboys Goodfellows Association.
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.