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Ashtabula County Sheriff

Microsoft Word - 2020 Election Voter Guide Info Packet Final.docx4 year term Salary for 2021: $106,364Responsibilities: To provide services to the courts, to oversee the county jail, and to act as chief law enforcement officer for the county.

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    Billy R. Johnson

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    Bill Niemi

Biographical Information

What is the biggest challenge in Ashtabula County and how would you address it?

Describe any additional training that could be provided to county deputies to ensure racial equity in law enforcement.

Describe any efforts you would make to create a more diverse deputy staff.

Are there any changes to the gun laws in our state that you would recommend?

Where do you stand on renovating or replacing the current county jail?

What non law enforcement experience in your life enhances your ability to serve as sheriff?

Education Saint John High School Graduate. Kent State Univ. 3.5 yrs. OPOTA-Certified Ohio Peace Officer, and Sheriff CPT.
Training and Experience I have been the County Sheriff for the past 28yrs, Prior to being elected Sheriff, I previously served as a deputy sheriff, and have six years Military experience.
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The biggest issue facing Ashtabula County is the COVID-19 pandemic, As a result of this pandemic, county and local budgets have been strained and budget reductions were implemented earlier this year to avoid greater budget impacts from anticipated lower sales and income tax revenues, gas tax revenues, etc. My office operated twenty-four hours per day, so I implemented cost saving and safety measures early, preparing staff, who continue to provide full law enforcement services to the Citizens of Ashtabula County now and throughout the duration of this public health issue. I also supported re-imbursement funding through grants to pay for COVID related expenses incurred. The biggest impact of the pandemic is on Jail operations, and inmate population. Special precautions, quarantine cells and overall jail operational staffing and plans had to be adjusted to keep staff and inmates safe.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement, my office has taken steps to review and revised current Use of Force Policies conforming to current law and legal guidelines. Deputies have also been trained through continuing professional education training standards by the Ohio Peace Office Training Commission on de-escalation techniques, procedural justice and cultural diversity topics.

Diversity is important in law enforcement and my office currently partners with local community organizations and social services agencies which results in a better understanding and respect for different ethnic groups. The Sheriff’s Office presently employs deputy sheriffs and civilian personnel from diverse backgrounds.

I will continue to recruit people with diverse backgrounds, talents and experience. This helps foster different ideas and perspectives which lead to better problem solving in our community.

I do not have a stance on any changes to the gun laws in the State of Ohio other than I believe in the Second Amendment and will enforce the current gun laws of the State of Ohio as the laws are currently written, or changed in the future. Currently we issue approximately 18-21 CCW Permits daily, 5 days a week.
The current county jail opened in 1978 needs replaced. Major renovations would put us under standards for jails built after 1983. Currently, the jail does not meet the needs of the community or criminal justice system designed to house 112 inmates and an average daily population before COVID of 151 inmates. The current jail was built at a time when jails did not provide alcohol or mental health services or programs to inmates that we now provide. As a result, not only are we not able to house all people that need to be in jail, or provide the necessary resources that keep individuals from reoffending and returning to jail. We do the best we can with the current jail; however, we can do better with a larger and modern facility.
I am a graduate of Saint John High School and inducted into the Saint John Hall of Fame Class of 2017. I attended Kent State University for three and a half years where I majored in Physical Education and minored in Psychology. I served six years in the Ohio National Guard attaining the rank of Sgt. E5/Evacuation Medic. I was a private business owner for twenty years of River Marine Supply, Ashtabula, Ohio, and have exercised sound financial responsibility and management having no personal bankruptcies. I have extensive budgeting experience balancing an average annual budget of $6,700,000.00. Since 1993, I have generated revenue for the County General Fund of over $8,331,000.00 offsetting costs to the taxpayer.

Education Jefferson Area HS; Ohio Peace Officer Training Certificate; Ohio Police Supervisor School; Ohio Auditor Certified Ohio Records Law
Training and Experience S.W.A.T. Team, K-9 Officer, OPOTA Certified Schools, Jefferson Village Police, N. Kingsville Police, Ohio Supreme Court Probation Officer Certification, Ashtabula County Sheriff Department Road Division Lieutenant, Terrorism Liaison Officer for Ohio Homeland Security.
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The Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office is not being managed properly. We have experienced officers leaving due to the current environment within and because of the management of the Sheriff's department. I left the department to run for Sheriff for this reason. I would treat all employees with respect and make them part of the solution in fighting crime on the street.

We have many issues with drugs and crime that need to be addressed which requires cooperation with other police agencies federal, state and local. I would lead from the front in combating the drug epidemic by partnering with our community leaders. I would be approachable to citizens and politicians alike to ensure prosperity for all of us.

I am not a politician, but law and order is being destroyed nationwide and I will not let this happen to our great county!
We train all deputies to interact with members of the community in the same manner. However, additional training is always welcomed in dealing with the public-at-large.
I would always make employment decisions based on the content of people's character and experience without any pre-conditions.
I feel the Ohio Legislator has the proper laws in place currently.
Due to the age of the current jail and not being properly maintained or updated by the current Sheriff, I would explore replacing this jail with a more efficient and up-to-code building.
I would say raising my three children prepared me to have patience, dealing with changing dynamics, and teaching life lessons. This happens in law enforcement each and every day and especially with young officers.

In my current job, as Ashtabula Municipal Court Adult Probation Officer, I now see the offenders in a different light and witness the struggles they deal with after being sentenced to a crime. I would ensure the Sheriff's Office is conducting criminal investigations to the proper conclusion from the beginning. Probation allows offenders to get a second chance and being treated with respect from the start goes a long way.