The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that nine Delaware County residents would be joining a new initiative designed to get input from the community.
Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin announced the new initiative as part of the office’s growing community relations efforts. The office reported that the initiative, called the Community Engagement Volunteers team, would consists of nine Delaware County residents who will serve a three-year term on one of four focus areas, working alongside DCSO staff to learn, contribute ideas and provide feedback.
The sheriff’s office said the four focus areas include minority recruitment, hiring and promotions, policy and training, and use of force.
“We’ve long had typical community outreach efforts, such as Block Watches, Citizens Sheriff Academy, and more, but we’re now being intentional to seek specific feedback from residents related to our operations,” Martin said.
The office reported it began development of the initiative in July 2020 and introduced the concept to the community in spring 2021. The office solicited volunteers and 21 citizens applied. The office said the nine members were selected after a “thorough and competitive vetting process.”
The office detailed the individuals who are part of the inaugural Community Engagement Volunteers team:
• Lorie Altvater, 53, of Delaware, is a peer recovery specialist/program coordinator. Altvater reports she wants to play a role in assisting law enforcement to deescalate mental health crises, leading to a healthier and safer community.
• Matthew Carter, 39, Delaware, is an Ohio State University researcher. Carter told the office that as a black male, he “desires to learn firsthand about law enforcement and how he can help ease concerns in the black population of Delaware County.”
• Pamela Foster, 62, Lewis Center, is a nonprofit management consultant who wanted to volunteer her community and “understand and strengthen the law enforcement and citizen partnership whenever possible.”
• Mindy Hedges, 65, Radnor, is a retired business owner and a current Radnor Township Precinct Representative to the Delaware Democratic Party. Hedges said she has “experienced the county’s rapid and complex growth for the past 50-plus years and wants to help keep it growing into the best county for people of all backgrounds and walks of life.”
• Kate McDonald, 47, Delaware, is a security engineer who said she was encouraged by the local department’s community-based approach to policing and “is looking forward to being part of the conversation in continuing to help develop and improve that system.”
• Vincent Pasquale, Jr., 52, Lewis Center, is a business co-owner and sales representative. Pasquale said that as a parent, he has always been concerned about and involved in the safety of all of the community’s children. He said he “wants to contribute in some way to the safety and well-being of residents as well as law enforcement professionals.”
• Lynn Stacy, 65, Delaware, is a social services supervisor. Stacy said she “loves her community” and saw the team as a way for residents to become involved in “a meaningful way to strengthen the community and relationships.”
• Michael Williams, 74, Powell, is a retired drug discovery researcher in the pharmaceutical industry and is current an adjunct professor in the OSU College of Medicine. Williams said he signed up based on a longstanding commitment to public safety and “his concerns with the opioid epidemic and spike in violent crime nationwide.”
• Erica Wood, 42, Powell, is a clinical counselor and crisis intervention educator. Wood said her professional work has exposed her to many segments of the county’s diverse population and said she believes we “all have more in common than not.”
Volunteers spent 15 hours in training in late August/early September, learning about the DCSO and law enforcement in general. The office said the team is “gearing up to begin their specific tasks, based on their focus area,” and they will share ideas and provide feedback.
Martin said the office stands to gain new perspectives from the team.
“When we partner with those we serve, truly listening and sharing with one another in an open-minded atmosphere, we all gain valuable insight into community expectations and law enforcement realities, making for a stronger relationship between citizens and law enforcement,” Martin said.