Meigs Co. Sheriff will go it alone starting Saturday

Consider the first two paragraphs of this Columbus Dispatch article, and ask yourself why this newspaper's editorial board continues to advocate a ban on a practical self-defense law for Ohioans.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

"If there’s big trouble during the wee hours of the night, Meigs County Sheriff Ralph Trussell warns it may require a few rings to rouse him from bed and a minute or so for him to pull on his pants and grab his gun.

With no dispatchers to answer calls and no deputies on duty beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Trussell will be the lone county lawman — a status he could retain for the remainder of the year."

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

In the culmination of a lingering legal and fiscal fight with county commissioners, the sheriff’s office is broke, forcing Trussell to lay off all 13 of his deputies and dispatchers.

Rural residents of Meigs County, about 70 miles southeast of Columbus, are being told to call the sheriff’s cell phone — regardless of the hour — if they are confronted with an "extreme emergency."

Trussell pledges to cover as much of the county’s 429 square miles as he can as often as he can, but admits: "There’s a lot of calls I’m not going to be able to answer. I’ll take the most serious calls and respond on an as-needed basis."

Pomeroy police, village marshals and the State Highway Patrol have been notified that they may need to respond to life-and death situations, he said.

The sheriff maintains that commissioners are gambling with the public’s safety by failing to adequately fund his office. Trussell periodically laid off some deputies last year because of a lack of cash.

Commissioner Jeff Thornton blames the sheriff’s pending solo act on "irresponsibility," saying Trussell failed to cut back spending earlier this year to live within a reduced budget.

Trussell’s annual budget, and those for other county offices, were cut by 15 percent this year because of the economy and depressed tax collections.

Of the approximately $536,000 appropriated for the sheriff’s office, the commissioners earmarked $200,000 for housing prisoners in out-of-county jails. Trussell closed the county jail last October.

The sheriff says more than $150,000 remains but that commissioners refuse to allow any transfers to keep deputies on the road. Thornton said all of the money likely will be needed to pay the jail tabs.

Maintaining that the county is required to provide sufficient funds to operate his office, Trussell sued the Meigs County Board of Commissioners. He lost the first round of his legal fight but has filed an appeal.

"This is Appalachia. There is no money on the tree. It’s really a shame. It’s terrible to have to go through this," Thornton said.

Trussell said he will be unable to respond to property crimes such as burglaries. Residents may file reports from 8 a.m. to noon weekdays at the sheriff’s office because Trussell is retaining a part-time secretary.

Click here to read the entire story in the Columbus Dispatch (subscription site - paid access only).

Click here to read how the Dispatch editors suggest Ohio Supreme Court should legislate a solution to the state's unconstitutional ban on self-defense.

Click here to read about how Dispatch editors believe raising taxes for funding for schools is more important than your (or your child's) life.

Click here to view the Dispatch's conspiracy theory that the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association only supports reforming Ohio's concealed carry law because they would profit (Truth: they would NOT profit).

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