Delaware County sheriff to retire in April

Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin announced his retirement Monday. His final day as sheriff will be April 17.

Martin was appointed sheriff in June 2012, and he was elected into the role that November. He was reelected in 2016 and 2020.

“What a joy and blessing it’s been to spend five decades in the noble profession of law enforcement,” Martin said in a release announcing his retirement. “I cherish and respect the men and women who selflessly do this job. Yet, for me, this season is ending. After careful deliberation and many conversations with my wife, family, trusted colleagues, friends, and mentors, I’m retiring from police work.”

Martin said it was a “difficult” decision because he loves to protect and serve, but “on the other side of the badge, there’s much more I can do to help others.”

“I draw energy from the courses I teach on ethics and law enforcement,” Martin said. “I feel my soul lighten when I mentor men at my local church and through a national organization of Christian law enforcement leaders. And I see hope for the future as I serve as a member of the Board of Trustees at my beloved alma mater, Bowling Green State University.”

Martin continued that a recent diagnosis made him consider his priorities.

“While I’m relieved and grateful that the diagnosis of, and successful treatment for, cancer a few years ago has left me healthy and energetic, that experience was just another reminder that the family I love deserves more of my attention and time,” Martin said. “Two wonderful adult children, two growing grandchildren, and my indescribably wonderful wife, Jill, are the foundation of my world.”

The Delaware County Board of Commissioners will appoint an acting sheriff, and after Martin’s retirement, the Delaware County Central Committee will have 45 days to select his successor. The successor will serve as sheriff through Martin’s vacated term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2024.

“Sheriff Russ Martin has been an outstanding leader in our community for decades and the integrity, commitment and compassion that he has brought to his work leading the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has positioned that office for continued success in the future,” said Jeff Benton, president of the Delaware County Board of Commissioners, in a release Monday.“While we are sad to lose him as a fellow elected official, Commissioners Barb Lewis and Gary Merrell and I wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life and thank Sheriff Martin for everything he has done for us and for Delaware County.”

In his statement, Martin said he supports Chief Deputy Jeff Balzer as his successor.

“Chief Deputy Sheriff Jeff Balzer has had a long and distinguished career in law enforcement,” Martin said. “He’s also been a valuable partner with me over the last several years. The deputies and staff admire and respect him and law enforcement agencies throughout Central Ohio know him as an ethical and effective leader.”

Martin said “putting the uniform and badge away will be hard,” but he is fully confident that it is the right time.

“My colleagues have made the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the nation,” Martin said. “… Whatever measure of success I’ve achieved in my career is due to the kindness and support by countless professionals who helped, advised, and guided me. These good people were generous with their time to help me, and I will continue to do my very best to help others in the same way. God’s plan for me isn’t over and Jill and I are excited to see where He leads us next.”