There are deputies with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office who are termed “special.” It’s not because they’re volunteers; it’s because of why and what they bring to the community and law enforcement.
Similar to a reserve unit, these 120 deputies are members of the Madison County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association.
Its legacy goes back to 1965 when the unit was formed to assist the sheriff’s office in helping keep the peace in Madison County. This then became an association in 1986 when it received its 501c(3) designation as a nonprofit organization, which permitted the deputies to expand their efforts to raise funds for charitable and community causes.
“Not a lot of people understand the difference between the association and full-timers,” said Laura Hamilton, the association’s treasurer who is a full-time deputy herself. “Association or special deputies are not civilians. They have all gone through police academy training and must renew their certification every year. ”
For Madison County’s law enforcement needs, those 120 special deputies augment the 40 deputies on the sheriff’s roster, providing added reach when needed.
They can be called upon at any time by the sheriff’s office for a wide variety of law enforcement needs ranging from court security, road patrol, and crowd control to community events as well as emergencies that require additional manpower.
“They know how to handle responsibility,” said Chief Deputy Bob Henry. “They are fully certified, fully trained law enforcement professionals. The depth they provide the sheriff’s office makes it so that there is very little we can’t do to help somebody.”
The association’s membership includes doctors, lawyers, personnel from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, present and former police officers and chiefs of police as well as retired sheriffs and investigators among folks from other walks of life. Serving as special deputies allows them to maintain their certification, continue their dedication to public service and offer the expertise they have developed throughout their careers.
“The sheriff has all that experience to tap,” said Joel Demory, president of the association, of the depth and back-up the organization provides. That experience translates into a yearly average of 2,500 hours of volunteer work to the sheriff’s office.
“We are involved in all aspects of the sheriff’s office,” continued Demory, who is a full-time insurance fraud investigator with the state of Ohio. “We also give back to the community through our work with charitable events, and help to raise awareness of the roles law enforcement plays in Madison County.”
“They are a major asset to the sheriff’s office in providing services for our county,” said Madison County Sheriff Jim Sabin. “The knowledge and expertise they provide us is invaluable. Without them we’d be stretching our resources for the many incidents and events with which they assist us.”
Among those events are: the Madison County Fair; the Farm Science Review; school athletic functions; Relay for Life; Rockin’ on the Run; Good Ol’ Days; and others.
According to Demory, a major part of the association’s mission is to give back to the community.
“We seek out and help support youth groups in the county such as the London Area Baseball Council and the Junior Fair Board,” he said. “We also accept donations for programs such as our annual Christmas food box drive.”
Working with area churches and community organizations, the association obtains the names and addresses of families in need of groceries for their Christmas dinner. The deputies collect the food and fill the boxes for as many as 210 families with the help of local businesses and organizations which donate food items as well as cash.
“Last year we had so much help,” Hamilton recalled of the food box assembly line that is manned by as many as 30 deputies and their families, “that we didn’t have enough boxes to keep them busy.”
Cost of the Christmas Box event runs in the neighborhood of $9,000, part of which is funded by a dinner held in the spring at Der Dutchman in Plain City. Deputies serve as wait staff with 15 percent of each bill donated to the association.
“The association takes it a step further,” Henry said of its service to the community and law enforcement. “They’re helping people. That’s their pay.”