Det. Sgt. Richard Warner has been appointed Highland County Sheriff, succeeding Ron Ward, who retired earlier this month.
The appointment was made Tuesday night by the county’s GOP central committee. The committee interviewed Warner and Dep. Donnie Barrera.
Warner has been with the sheriff’s office since 1995. Prior to that, he served two years as a patrol office with the village of Lynchburg.
He and his wife, Kristy, are the parents of two children, an 8-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
Warner said late Tuesday that he was honored to get the appointment. He said he has been fortunate to work with Ward for many years. “I think the world of Ronnie,” he said.
He said he did not plan major changes in the office, but wants to focus more on some parts of the county such as the Rocky Fork Lake region, the Carmel area, Sinking Spring, and the Buford region. He also said he hopes to have more visibility at schools, and wants to work on improving relations with area village and city police departments.
It was also announced Wednesday by Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins that Warner is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Peace Officer Award given by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
Warner was honored for his work last year on a child molestation case, said Collins, which involved three young girls. “He made them feel safe,” said Collins. “People don’t understand the impact an officer can have. Those girls trusted him” as they had to recount the abuse they had suffered.
The perpetrator was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison.
Warner will travel to Columbus next week to accept the prestigious award.
Barrera was also recently honored at the state level, receiving the Distinguished Law Enforcement Community Service Award from Attorney General Mike DeWine.
GOP committee member Shane Wilkin said the decision between Warner and Barrera was not an easy one. He said both are excellent longtime employees, and committee members wrestled with the choice. But Tuesday turned out to be Warner’s night, said Wilkin.
A special sheriff election will occur next year, which will be held concurrently with next year’s regular primary election in May and general election in November. Both Republican and Democratic candidates can file for the special election.
The winner of the November 2014 election will take over as sheriff Jan. 1, 2015, and will serve the remainder of Ward’s term, through 2016.