TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - For the first time in 30 years, Lucas County will be run by a new sheriff. John Tharp was sworn in Monday afternoon in the Lucas County Courthouse.
Tharp is taking over for Jim Telb, whom he worked under for the last 14 years. Maintaining public safety, operating within budget and exploring the possibility of building a new county jail top Sheriff Tharp's priority list.
According to Tharp, the county jail will be his main focus, with hopes of building a new jail within his four-year term. While he says he is going to take a serious look over the next few months, he would like the courts to be part of that discussion.
"The interest rates are low now. If we're going to do it, now would be the time to do it," said Tharp.
Tharp questions if courtrooms should be in the jail, to avoid transporting inmates around the community.
Within the next few months, Tharp said he will be taking a closer look with Lucas County commissioners to see how realistic it would be to build a new county jail. Short term, Tharp said he wants to improve safety within the current facility, which includes installing metal detectors at the entrance, and increasing interaction between corrections officers and jail inmates.
"Right now the way the facility is set up is we have a control booth and the officers are in the control booth and they're not right in with the - in the day centers with the inmates. If they were in the day centers right - having direct communication with the inmates, we would know more of the issues," explained Tharp.
Tharp is also pledging to stay in touch with the community to maintain public safety, while trying to maximize efficiencies within the current budget.
"Every sheriff's office throughout the country is hurting for manpower, running short. Do we need more deputies? Absolutely, but we can work with what we have," said Tharp. "We have quite a few block watches out in the western part of the county. I attend those meetings, and I get so much positive feedback."