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Published: Friday, 3/19/2004

Rival rips Telb for how he runs sheriff's office

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER

Tom Gulch, chief of the Oregon Police Department and challenger to Lucas County Sheriff James Telb, blasted the incumbent yesterday for what he called poor management of the law enforcement agency.

The criticism was unleashed by the Republican after a former captain in the sheriff's office was charged by federal authorities earlier this week for extortion.

The former captain is the fourth Telb underling in recent months accused of running afoul of laws they swore to uphold.

"These criminal acts have caused me great concern," Chief Gulch said yesterday during a news conference held in front of the county jail in downtown Toledo. "The serious criminal charges filed to date demonstrate that a close examination of the current management policies, procedures, and practices now in place is desperately overdue."

Chief Gulch said a request his campaign has submitted to Sheriff Telb's office to receive a copy of policy and procedure manuals has not yet been fulfilled, though the original public records request was made more than five weeks ago, paperwork supplied by the Gulch campaign indicates.

"My campaign has followed the provisions set forth in the Ohio Revised Code concerning public records. We expected a prompt and reasonable response to our request, as the law calls for," Chief Gulch said.

Sheriff Telb said his office is working with the county prosecutor, which acts as legal counsel for all county officeholders, to meet the request.

He deflected charges of mismanagement, saying it has been unfortunate that he has employees who have been convicted of crimes, but that he has acted swiftly when he became aware of the trouble.

"It's unfortunate, and I am gravely concerned," the sheriff said. "We took immediate reaction to it, and we think we've got it cleaned up. We've changed a lot of procedures."

He has presided over a series of recent problems in his department, and was blasted last month by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates as "asleep at the switch "during security lapses at the jail."

Judge Bates, who made the comments during the sentencing of a former corrections officer who was caught in an undercover drug sting, said he was "shocked at the security at the Lucas County jail" and that "I couldn't believe that a lock-down facility like the county jail was less secure than the courthouse."

Sheriff Telb, 65, a Democrat, was first elected in 1984. Chief Gulch, 59, a former Toledo police captain, is making his first run for public office. A third candidate, Daniel Contreras, 66, a former captain under Sheriff Telb, has filed to run for sheriff as an independent.

Contact Fritz Wenzel at:

fritz@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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