By Daniel Karell
Carl Smith is running for sheriff.
The chief deputy at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office will seek the Republican nomination in the March 2016 primary.
“I’ve always thought about running, but I didn’t run before because I believe in loyalty and I didn’t want to run against Wenninger,” Smith told The News Democrat. “Now that’s he’s going to retire, I thought this would be a good time to try.”
Calls made to Wenninger seeking confirmation that he would not run again were not returned by press time.
Smith was appointed to the position of chief deputy by Wenninger in early April, the latest promotion in a 28-year career with the BCSO. Smith took over for former chief deputy John Schadle, who left for the same position in Adams County last March.
“I’ve done everything here from corrections to civil procedures to road patrol and finally investigations as a detective,” Smith said. “I’m now the chief deputy and I just feel with my experience, I can help with the drug problems here and also with the investigations with homicides and theft. I think I can make a difference.”
Smith also believes that his experience at all levels of the BCSO makes him a worthy candidate for the position.
“Over time, being a supervisor for the sheriff’s office, I’ve learned how to speak with people, how to handle personnel, how to handle situations on the road in investigations, and in the jail, diffusing situations before it’s physical,” Smith said. “With all the training I’ve had and all the experience I’ve had, I think I have a lot to offer. I’ve pretty much handled everything since I’ve been working at the sheriff’s office.”
Smith, who lives in Byrd Township, has seen plenty of changes since he began at the BCSO in 1987. Back when he started, Smith said it was common to go an entire eight-hour shift without a call to come to a crime or accident scene, and that when working night shifts, it was even possible to go a week stretch without a single call.
“Now, it’s rare these days to go a couple of hours without a call,” Smith said.
The veteran law enforcement member also discussed the need for a new county jail. As has been discussed in media reports recently, Smith noted how the Brown County Adult Detention Center was only designed to house 38 people when it was built in 1980. Now 35 years later, Smith estimates there’s a daily average of 85 inmates in the jail.
On the female side of the jail, it was designed for only six women to stay, yet recently, that number rose to 32. The Brown County commissioners had to sign a new contract with Butler County to send inmates there for a fee.
Smith commended the commissioners for signing that deal, but said it was only a short-term fix.
“That’s one of my priorities,” Smith said. “We’ve got to do something. The jail minimum standards says we have to have so many square feet in our cells and we are below that.
“There’s 22 cells back there with double bunks and all the female cells have bunks, too, but it puts us below the minimum square footage that we’re supposed to have. We’ve got to have a place to put people so they’re not breaking into your house or mine,” he said.
Since making his announcement, Smith said he has received plenty of support from his friends and family, giving him a further boost in his goal to run for Brown County sheriff.
“My family is behind me,” Smith said. “I’ve got a lot of support with my family and friends for this. Like I said, I’ve thought about doing this for quite some time but I didn’t want to run against the sheriff.”
Reach Daniel Karell at 937-378-6161. Follow him on Twitter @GNDKarell.