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Lucas Co. deputy, former TPD unopposed for sheriff

By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa


Oct. 26, 2012: Major John Tharp recently sat in an Old South End Mexican restaurant for dinner with about a dozen fellow members of the National Latino Peace Officers Association (NLPOA), Toledo Chapter—all of them still in uniform—and noticed something unique among the other patrons.


“They were looking and observing and watching,” he recalled. “You could just feel that they were pleased to see all these young fellows had ‘made it’ in the sheriff’s office. It was a good feeling.”


Tharp lauded the NLPOA for its increased visibility in recent years. Many of the group’s members volunteered as off-duty deputies to provide security at last summer’s MidWest LatinoFest, just one example of their dedication.


“Their volunteerism in the community—they’re always doing something for others,” Tharp said. “I think it’s a good organization.”


Tharp estimated there are nearly 20 Latino deputies and corrections officers within the ranks of the sheriff’s office. He believes their visible presence only can help the fragile trust factor between Latinos and law enforcement going forward.


“I think it’s so very important for the Latino community that they see the officers coming into law enforcement when there are conversations going on about the undocumented, as well as other conversations,” he said. “I think it’s very important that the Latino community see their own family members have become law enforcement officers.”


Tharp is seeking to increase that bond with the Latino community when he becomes the next Lucas County sheriff. The Democrat is running unopposed in the upcoming election.


The 64-year old deputy has been with the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office for 14 years, following 25 years of service with the Toledo Police Dept. Tharp currently heads the administrative section of the sheriff’s office, which includes court security and uniformed bailiffs, the civil section—which includes sheriff’s real estate sales, school resource officers and the DARE program.


The sheriff’s office currently has nearly 500 employees, including sworn deputies, corrections officers, and jail medical staff. But the department could not afford to replace between 50 and 60 deputies who have retired in recent years.


Tharp openly admitted he was surprised when he learned early in the campaign that there would be no other candidates running for sheriff. He has taken nothing for granted, however, placing campaign signs throughout the community.


“I thought there would be others interested in running for the office,” he said. “There was conversation over the years about others (even fellow deputies within the sheriff’s office) interested in running. I think some were talking about it, but weren’t totally committed to doing that.”


After 28 years with the county, Sheriff James Telb plans to retire at year’s end to spend more time with his family, including his six grandchildren.


“He certainly put a lot of things in motion (over that time). I’m not looking to make major changes, just tighten up a few things, maybe add a few things,” Tharp said. “We’ll continue on with a few things that he had either talked about or started, make them better and move on like that.”


While it’s too early to call Tharp the sheriff-elect, he already plans to increase his visibility among the law enforcement agency’s operations spread across the county— from the jail in downtown Toledo to road patrols and substations in the townships.


“I’m looking forward to working with the staff, perhaps a little more one-on-one than has been done in the past,” he said. “I want to be available—coming into the corrections center at night and on holidays to support them.”


Sheriff Telb never replaced his chief deputy Ken Perry when he retired a few years ago. Tharp intends to leave that office vacant as well, what he termed an administrative budget cut at the top, as well as a vote of confidence in the capabilities of his other top brass.


“I think there are a lot of people in place where the responsibility can be delegated throughout different offices, the heads of our divisions that are there,” he explained. “We’re trying to do more with less from a money aspect. We are hurting. It’s a common-sense approach to tighten up our belts at the top.”


Lucas County Commissioners, who hold the budgetary purse strings to the sheriff’s department, have issued quarterly disbursements to the agency over the past couple of years. Tharp stated “we know what we need to operate” financially and intends to be open to ideas from the commissioners and hopes to forge a positive working relationship.


The start of the New Year will be exciting for Tharp both personally and professionally. In addition to being sworn in as the new sheriff, he will become a grandpa for the first time. Married 31 years and the father of two, his son and daughter-in-law are expecting twins—a boy and girl—in February. Tharp eventually hopes to find time to visit them in South Carolina, where his son is a staff attorney in the Air Force JAG Corps.


“We’ll see how things are going for them. We don’t want to bombard them when they have the little ones,” he said. “We’ll play it by ear.”


Luis González, president of the National Latino Peace Officers Association, Toledo Chapter, said that the group endorsed Tharp.


Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/30/12 04:52:54 -0800.




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