By Art Hunter
The Clermont County Sheriff’s Office held an awards ceremony Dec. 16 to recognize staff members and citizens who have performed above and beyond the call of duty during the past year.
Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg said that he doesn’t usually make nominations for these awards, as he prefers to allow the employees to nominate their coworkers.
“I like the nominations to come up through the ranks because you see each other differently than I do,” Rodenberg said. “These are your peers who have singled you out for recognition.”
Deputy Carly Gebhardt received a Sheriff’s Commendation for the work she did in securing a confession from a suspect in an 11-year-old rape case.
Rodenberg noted the difficulty in working with a old case in which the victim has moved out of state, and commented on her ability to communicate well with suspects as well as victims and witnesses.
Corrections Officers Jeff Johnson and Joel Gilpin received Sheriff’s Merit awards for their actions in dealing with a suicidal inmate.
“Jeff and Joel exhibited a concern for a fellow human being that I consider noteworthy,” Rodenberg said.
Rodenberg said that an inmate contacted officers through the intercom and asked them to “Tell my wife and kids I love them.”
Sensing something was wrong, the officers ran to the cell block and found the man attempting to dive off the upper tier of the cell block.
Officer Gilpin stood underneath the man, preparing to attempt to catch him or break his fall if he jumped, while Officer Johnson ran to the upper tier. Johnson was able to grab the man by his clothing and prevent him from jumping.
“This was all caused by this man’s detoxing,” Rodenberg said. “He went out of his way later to thank both of these officers for saving his life.”
Deputy Rick Depuccio received a Sheriff’s Merit award for actions he took while on routine patrol.
Rodenberg said that Deputy Depuccio was on patrol when he heard gun shots and a dog crying. He proceeded to search for the source of the commotion and found a man he knew to have been a drug offender, and the dog he had killed.
Knowing the man was likely not legally able to be in possession of firearms, Deputy Depuccio was able to secure a search warrant, and a number of firearms, stolen electronics, narcotics, and $40,000 in cash was found at the residence.
“This was very good law enforcement work and because of that, this man was charged,” Rodenberg said.
Terry DeRossett and Greg Johnson each received the Sheriff’s Citizen Award.
Johnson and DeRossett, employees of the Milford Meijer, have learned to identify people who may be purchasing items for the production of methamphetamine, which has been a significant problem in Clermont County for several years.
By being able to alert authorities to suspicious behavior, DeRossett and Johnson have aided in the seizing of $250,000 worth of methamphetamine and have assisted in 34 meth investigations which resulted in 58 successful prosecutions.
“The determination these gentlemen exhibited has helped to make our county safe for everybody,” Rodenberg said.
Rodenberg also recognized Sgt. William Vaught and Linda Ryan on their retirements from the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office.
Ryan join the office five years ago as a cook in the jailhouse. Sgt. Vaught joined the sheriff’s office in 1985.