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The Suburbanite
  • Maier's name erased from Stark sheriff's office

  • At the direction of newly reinstated Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson, workers have begun removing former Sheriff George T. Maier's name from signs and cruiser doors at the Stark County Safety Center. Adding Maier's name to the department's insignia cost roughly $13,671.
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  • Sheriff George T. Maier spent $1,266 to embroider his name on quartermaster shirts, $5,582 to add his name to the side of police cruisers and other department vehicles, and $6,823 for his name to appear on stationery and signs.
    All of it was paid for by taxpayer money that Stark County commissioners allotted the sheriff's office earlier this year. All of it soon will be changed.
    At the direction of newly reinstated Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson, workers began removing Maier's name from view at the Stark County Safety Center, at 4500 Atlantic Blvd. NE, Friday morning.
    Using brake cleaner and other solvents, they peeled his name from the sheriff star decals posted on the glass doors and from insignia on the doors of the sheriff cruisers and vehicles. Using white tape, they also covered Maier's signature on the notices that warn visitors to not bring weapons into the safety center.
    Lt. Louis Darrow, whom Swanson has appointed to oversee operations until he returns to the office Tuesday (Monday is an observed holiday), said the office would not spend additional money to return Swanson's name to the department's insignia since his term in office is expected to be short.
    He said residents may see some of the department's older cruisers with Swanson's name on it. Yet, on some other vehicles, workers have been unable to peel away the adhesive overlay that contains Maier's name.
    Stark County Democrats are expected to meet within the next 45 days to choose a new sheriff as ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday. The court removed Maier and reinstated Swanson as interim sheriff after determining that Maier did not meet all the legal qualifications to be sheriff and that Democrats should never have appointed him in February to fill the post vacated by Sheriff-elect Michael McDonald.
    COMMON PRACTICE
    Maier, who has been paid $84,447 in salary and benefits since taking office Feb. 7, said he chose to add his name to the decals, signs and shirts after receiving guidance from the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association and other sheriffs that it was an appropriate practice to do when the office's leadership changes.
    "I guess it's part of the branding for the sheriff's office," he said.
    While no law requires the department's insignia to include a sheriff's name, the use is so common that Robert A. Cornwell of the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association couldn't immediately recall a sheriff in Ohio whose name is omitted.
    "It helps to identify (the sheriffs) for the public that elected them," Cornwell said. He added that, "All the cars are marked the same throughout the state, (and) that's one of the ways you can tell if it's from (another county)."
    Veteran officers in the Stark County Sheriff's Office said sheriff's going back to at least Bruce Umpleby's reign in the 1990s have attached their names to the department's shield.
    Page 2 of 2 - Maier noted that the embroidery cost for the dispatcher's shirts would have been an expense the sheriff's office would have borne anyway because he changed their uniforms from tactical-type fatigues to less expensive polo shirts. He said the new shirts cost less than $20 with the embroidering included while the former uniform shirts cost roughly $43, not including patches and name badges.
    "They were embroidered by a local company, and although I didn't ask them to put (my name) on there, it was part of the embroidery package," Maier said.
    Maier also indicated that the sheriff's office may not want to completely erase his name yet as he plans to be a candidate for the Democratic appointment.
    "I think the Supreme Court gave me a clear path to correct what needs to be corrected," he said.
    SEEKING REAPPOINTMENT
    Maier said he considers the court's determination that he did not meet the full-time law enforcement requirement a technicality and that his nine months of experience as sheriff resolves the issues.
    "The (court's) opinion is a little confusing — the whole law is confusing — but I didn't see in there that my time (as sheriff) didn't count," Maier said.
    He declined to elaborate on whether he would rely solely on his service as sheriff to meet the qualification or if he would pursue a full-time law enforcement job in the interim.
    "I think at that time of the election, I will be able to show that I have corrected the technicality and that I am a viable candidate," Maier said.
    Maier also believes the Supreme Court's ruling confirmed his belief that he meets the educational requirements to be sheriff when it determined that he was a supervisor and a peace officer during his time as the assistant director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. State law requires a sheriff to have either two years of supervisory experience as a peace officer or two years of post-secondary education.
    Swanson had challenged Maier's educational qualifications in his lawsuit, but the court did not directly address the educational component when it found that Maier did not meet the law enforcement experience requirement. Swanson's attorneys contend that Maier is be eligible for the Democratic appointment now because the court ruled he did not meet the qualifications in February. They believe that only the two candidates who were eligible in February can be considered by the Democrats now.
    Darrow, who is backed by Swanson, and Republican Hartville Police Chief Lawrence Dordea have said they plan to seek the appointment again.
    Reach Kelli at 330-580-8339 or kelli.young@cantonrep.com.
    On Twitter: @kyoungREP