Farewell to Delaware County’s ‘Top Cop’


By Melissa A. Schiffel

Contributing columnist

One of my favorite traditions that we continued from my predecessor is the quarterly recognition of “Top Cops.” These opportunities give us a chance to recognize and highlight specific law enforcement officers and first responders who have not only met the call of duty, but excelled at it on one or more particular occasions. Some of the Top Cops we’ve recognized include deputies who responded to and investigated the homicide of Stephanie Hunter. We also recognized recently two Delaware police officers for the response to a domestic violence call.

But, now, it’s time to recognize another Top Cop — one, who has dedicated his 40-plus-year career to serving and protecting us — the citizens of Delaware County. So not only do I pen this editorial to honor, on behalf of the Prosecutor’s Office, our Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin as our forever Top Cop, but to also say thank you Sheriff Martin — and farewell.

I first met Sheriff Martin in my early weeks as the Delaware city prosecutor in 2016. I already knew his reputation for integrity from my years as a prosecutor working around the state, but if I am honest, it was pretty intimidating meeting him in his office for the first time on the second floor of the Sheriff’s Administrative Building. He is a man of tall stature, a firm handshake, and you could tell just by making eye contact with him that his first and foremost priorities were serving the men and women in law enforcement and protecting our citizens. What I didn’t know that day though was that first hand shake and conversation would lead to a friendship and mentorship both inside the office and out.

Our paths crossed regularly in the professional world, and one period of time that sticks out to me about Sheriff Martin was his leadership when we lost our Westerville police officers Morelli and Joering at the hands of a murderer. Sheriff Martin was the calm within the storm — a ballast for all of us connected to law enforcement who were in a state of shock and sorrow. He led then, as always does, with great dignity and tenacity. He supported the men and women in law enforcement with the same vigor he always does, and he also supported families of law enforcement, too. Within a few days of the murders, Sheriff Martin and his wife, Jill, hosted an event at the Delaware Bible Church, for police wives. I attended as the wife of a police officer, and I will never forget that evening as the wives unpacked all of our fears, worries, and sorrow that this terrible event brought to our surfaces. The other bright light of that evening, besides Sheriff Martin, was his wife. A woman of great faith, a community leader and former educator, Jill’s tender smile and hug is something I still look forward to today.

If you’ve been around for a few years, you know that before Sheriff Martin took office and command, his most recent predecessors did little to nothing to emulate or uphold the values and integrity of the deputies they served. I am willing to bet that in 2012, the average citizen didn’t understand the cross-roads that existed when Sheriff Martin took office. Sheriff Martin chose the high path, the right path for his team, and since 2012 he has worked tirelessly to assemble the best sheriff’s office in the state of Ohio and across the country. Today, Sheriff Martin is known throughout the world for his integrity, his innate and astute leadership skills, and his dedication to the development of others. He has poured into so many new, mid-career, and near retirement law enforcement officers and deputies. And he has walked the walk of integrity and leadership to demonstrate to his staff that it can be done. I hope you will take a moment to tell Sheriff Martin thank you for rebuilding the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and for leading our men and women who wear the star badge.

But Sheriff’s Martin legacy doesn’t consist of just his 40-plus years of law enforcement and rebuilding of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office. He has impacted so many in our community by demonstrating generosity and investing in community members. An example of his generosity that we will benefit from forever is his dedication as one of the co-chairs for Turning Point as they raised money to build our then much needed domestic violence shelter in 2018. In part because of his efforts, we now have a safe space in Delaware County for those experiencing domestic abuse.

But finally, though, there are countless individuals in the community who Sheriff Martin has mentored and invested his time and knowledge and experience to help become better leaders. I’m proud to be one of those individuals. From our first meeting in 2016 to late 2018 (when he encouraged me to seek the office of county prosecutor) to now, Sheriff Martin has consistently “shown up” for me as a friend and mentor. To say I will miss him dearly is an understatement, but I am so thankful to have learned from him and to have worked alongside him these last four years as county officials.

As one of my favorite Christian songs says, “Well done, my good and faithful one.” Sheriff Martin — Russ — well done, our good and faithful Sheriff. You will always be Delaware County’s Top Cop.

Melissa A. Schiffel is the Delaware County prosecutor.

No posts to display