COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin has made major changes to central Ohio’s law enforcement in his two years on the job, and he said he’s learned a lot so far but has more to do.
From introducing therapy dogs to making jails safer, it’s been a busy term so far for Baldwin.
“It’s a huge job, probably more than I really anticipated, but I’m really proud that we implemented a few programs, we reorganized and the men and women of the sheriff’s office are doing a great job,” he said.
Baldwin said the reorganization by lumping services together and creating new divisions has changed the way the office operates for the better. One of his proudest accomplishments is the therapy dog program.
“My assumption was we would be in churches and schools and places like that,” he said. “But we found out that therapy dogs are really heavily involved in investigations and in court presentations and in helping out children of abuse.”
The dogs provide an anchor for crime victims, especially children, allowing them to open up and talk to investigators and giving them strength during court testimony.
“Having that dog in there that they can hold and kind of relate to and even tell the dog what happened so the investigator can hear, we’re finding that a lot,” he said. “[And in] court testimony, being able to have that dog with them as they testify means everything. I didn’t anticipate that.”
Baldwin is also planning on making major changes to the Franklin County Jail. One of the main concerns is that with the way the design is now, it’s possible for inmates to be assaulted and commit acts of self-harm within the building.
“The new concept: They’ll be in constant observation the entire time,” he said.
Baldwin is also still implementing new programs, like the Crisis Intervention Diversion Unit.
“When someone is in a crisis mode, we have specially trained deputies partnered with NetCare,” he explained. “They’re responding trying to take care of that person so we don’t get the repeated calls over and over.”
He said the program seems to be successful already at keeping those with mental health issues out of jail.
You can watch Colleen Marshall’s full interview with Sheriff Baldwin above.