LISBON - The sheriff has added his second new deputy in recent months, and the latest addition will enable him to provide additional coverage for the northwest section of Columbiana County.
County Sheriff Ray Stone said the addition of Justin Madison will give him the additional manpower to create a third patrol zone that will encompass Butler, Knox, Hanover and West townships for at least part of the day.
While the sheriff's office patrols the entire county, Stone said the county's size, geography and inadequate staffing often meant they were unable to patrol the western part of the township as often as he would like. The addition of Madison, who starts this week, is expected to change that.
Until now, the county was split into north and south zones for paroling purposes, with the east-west dividing line being U.S. Route 30 and state Route 154. Stone said Madison's hiring gives him the extra manpower needed to assign a deputy to patrol the newly created western zone at least eight hours per day.
"It's common sense. The more deputies you can have out there patrolling, the more proactive you can be" in deterring crime, he said.
Inadequate staffing has long been an issue at the sheriff's office and one that predates Stone. A Morning Journal survey conducted about 10 years ago found that the six other Ohio counties closest in size had more than twice as many deputies on average than the sheriff's office.
Stone said he has been able to hire more deputies because of additional funding provided by county commissioners from the state casino tax. Stone added a drug-detection dog in September, which required a deputy be assigned as the canine's handler, essentially creating a new position since another deputy was hired as his replacement.
Commissioners provided Stone with an additional $180,000 in funding this year, which is being used to hire Madison. This will bring to 21 the number of deputies and detectives in the sheriff's office, excluding Stone and Chief Deputy Allen Haueter.
"We were as low as 18 a couple of years ago when (a deputy) retired and I wasn't able to replace him," he said.
Stone noted some of the local police departments have almost as many officers as they do deputies, but he is responsible for a much larger area of the county: 15 of the 18 townships and the smaller villages that do not have a police department.
"Now it's heading in the right direction," he said of the staffing increase. "I think it's a great use of the casino money. It benefits everyone, even those places with police departments because we are in those towns serving warrants and court papers."
Madison, 30, is currently head of security at the county courthouse, a position he has held for the past year. After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, he has worked part-time for the Lisbon and New Waterford police departments, while also serving as a reserve deputy.
Madison and his wife, Anna, live in Salem.