Kimmy Rogers, the current Adams County sheriff, is running for re-election in the 2016 primary as a Republican candidate.
Rogers’ campaign centers on the importance of experienced leadership in a law enforcement agency, and the prevention of drug abuse and addiction through childhood education and intervention.
Rogers began his law enforcement career in 1973 as an Adams County Deputy. While in that post he worked as a road officer and as an undercover drug investigator and detective. He served as Bailiff for the Adams County Common Pleas Court before running for the Sheriff’s office in 2009.
During his seven years as Adams County’s Sheriff, he has dealt not only with the logistics of running the sheriff’s office, but also with the opioid epidemic that has swept across Ohio in the past decade.
“There’s a lot more to being Sheriff than arresting drug dealers and thieves,” Rogers said, “Adams County is the seventh largest county in the state, and we patrol it with only 12 deputies working in three-man shifts.”
Last year over 26,000 calls were logged through the county’s 911 dispatch system (for all emergency departments), among them were over 200 false alarms and 110 hang ups.
“Every time an alarm goes off or someone calls 911 and hangs up, we have to send a car to check it out,” Rogers continues, that’s in addition to booking 986 offenders, patrolling the roadways, serving papers, doing hundreds of background checks, issuing conceal carry licenses, taking inmates to doctor, dentist, and hospital visits, and transporting prisoners from one detention center to another.
Rogers says the most complicated and challenging part of the sheriff’s job is running the county’s notoriously overcrowded jail.
“We have 38 beds in the jail, but we average 60 inmates a day,” he explains, “We have too many prisoners and not enough space to keep them, so in addition to serving over 60,000 meals a year to inmates, furnishing and washing all their clothing, sheets, and blankets, doing basic housekeeping, patrolling the roadways, and answering emergency calls, we also have to transport prisoners back and forth between jails in different counties.”
While dealing with the logistics of running the jail may take up the majority of his time, Rogers says his real passion is working to educate young people about the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. “The one thing we’ve never tried on a national level is education and prevention, we’ve never targeted the problem from that angle,” he goes on, “Identifying at risk kids, and keeping them out of the system, that’s going to have a long term impact. The number of drug addicts goes up every year, what we’re doing now is not working.”
Rogers says that one of his main goals is creating a drug prevention program that can be applied in every community.
“Communities need to take responsibility for educating children about the danger of using drugs. We need to improve our communities if we want to see change.”
Rogers works actively with schools, churches, and social organizations to raise awareness, but says he plans to extend his prevention programs even further. “Five counties will be joining us next year to take part in the Dangers of Opiates program. The opiate epidemic is the greatest problem we’re facing right now. We’ve got to do with opiates what we did with cigarettes and seat belts – education, and we’ve got to start at a young age.”
“Kids need to understand before they take an opiate painkiller that good people have become drug addicted because they didn’t understand the dangers of what they were taking, they get hooked, and when they can longer get them legally, they’re forced to turn to heroin.”
A program developed by Rogers and area churches, the “Junior Deputy Boot Camp” attempts to teach young people about those dangers. With the help of the Adams County Health Department, the Boot Camps not only educate, but also help to identify at-risk children. “We don’t think they’ll change the world,” Rogers says, but when the volunteers see a kid who needs help, they’ll give help.”
Rogers admits that solving the opioid problem is going to take time, “It’s at all levels of society now – not a day goes by that I’m not talking about drugs, to a kid to keep them off drugs, or to an adult whose on drugs, or to a parent whose concerned about drugs, or to a mom who lost a kid to drugs, or a kid who lost a mom. If we can reach the next generation through education, we can have an impact, but we’re in for a long battle, and I intend to keep on fighting the fight.”