There are three people running for sheriff in Stark County, and the challengers feel there is dysfunction within the department.
“Our retention of officers is really high. We have been losing a lot of people. As far as what I would like to change is morale-the morale is really low, ” said Deputy Harold Dentinger of the Stark County Sheriff”s Department.
Dentinger is running for sheriff and has about 15 years of law enforcement experience. Most are with the Seattle Police Department, where he was a patrol supervisor for five of those years.
He has been with the Stark County Sheriff’s Department for the last three years.
Incumbent Sheriff, Terry Oestreich, disagrees with Dentinger and said “every agency across the state” deals with staffing issues, and the department “bends over backwards” to keep officers.
Oestreich has been the sheriff in Stark County since 2015; he beat out incumbent Sheriff Clarence Tuhy in the 2014 General Election with 52 percent of the vote.
Fellow candidate, Sgt. Corey Lee of the Dickinson Police Department said, “We need to restructure the department. Put people in the right seats. We need a recruitment and retention program”.
Lee has been with the DPD the last thirteen years and is in charge of the K9 Unit.
Oestreich’s challengers are pointing out that since 2015 twenty one deputies and three administrative staff members have been dismissed or resigned.
The sheriff said most of those problems he inherited from his predecessor who didn’t perform extensive background checks before hiring people.
He also said the reason he ran for sheriff almost four years ago was “I felt the citizens of Stark County deserved better than what they were getting”.
Oestreich believes that since he became sheriff he has helped cultivate relationships with community leaders, and one of his biggest accomplishments was starting the school resource officer program with the department.
If re-elected he said he would like to explore the possibility of starting an outlaw motorcycle gang task force to stop the sale of illegal drugs.
Oestreich’s challengers also have fighting the drug problem in the county on their radar.
Lee said he would like to bring a K9 Unit and Body Cams to the department is elected.
“I know what being a sheriff is about, and I feel like I can up the ante in that department a little bit, ” said Lee.
Dentinger said he would like to bring some of the progressive training he learned at the Seattle Police Department to Stark County if elected.
He said he believes the department is about “10 to 15” years behind when it comes to enforcing narcotics.
One of his goals as sheriff would be to bring advanced training and equipment to the department.
Dentinger is currently serving as a deputy assigned to the narcotics task force, but he was a patrol sergeant before being demoted.
He believes the demotion is retaliation by the current sheriff for running against him.
“A month before the primary I was demoted down to a deputy and reassigned to the narcotics task force,” said Dentinger.
Oestreich said its” Simply not true” and he was demoted for failure to adhere to policies and procedures and had about 28 incidents over a six to seven month span.
Dentinger said that if he doesn’t win the sheriff’s race, he will stay with sheriff’s department, but Lee said he doesn’t anticipate running for sheriff again if he loses and will stay with the police department.
The Primary Election is on June 12