A second deputy in as many days announced this week that he is retiring from the Highland County Sheriff’s Office after a long career in law enforcement.
Dep. Steve Conrad said he is calling it quits after 18 years with the sheriff’s office, where he was primarily in charge of the sex offender registry, although according to sheriff Donnie Barrera, Conrad has been an excellent deputy who “would do about anything” needed to contribute to the success of the office, from road patrol to transporting prisoners.
Barrera said he found out Monday that Conrad is retiring. “I hate to see him leave,” said the sheriff. “He’s been a good employee, both with the police department and the sheriff’s office.”
Conrad’s announcement comes a day after The Times-Gazette reported on the retirement of Sgt. Bobby Stroop, a longtime deputy who spent the past decade as the sheriff’s office’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer. Like Stroop, Conrad is retiring effective May 31.
Conrad’s first foray into the realm of public safety began in 1975, when – just two years out of Hillsboro High School – he joined the Hillsboro Police Department while simultaneously serving as a volunteer firefighter with the Hillsboro Fire Department and life squad. In fact, Conrad was in the first EMS class to start squad service in Hillsboro, he said.
Conrad said he was drawn to police and firefighting service because “I just like helping people.” He said he may have been attracted to law enforcement because in school, “I didn’t like bullies.”
After serving five years with the Hillsboro police and fire departments, Conrad moved to Cincinnati, where he attended night school at the University of Cincinnati, eventually earning his degree in Engineering. He later earned a Law Enforcement degree from Southern State Community College, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 average. He also completed the Greenfield Police Academy, graduating at the top of his class.
Conrad also served five years with the Day Heights Fire Department in the Milford area as a firefighter and EMT, and all told held firefighter state certification for 41 years.
Conrad joined the sheriff’s office in 2000 under sheriff Ron Ward, first as a dispatcher before taking over the sex offender registry duties. During his 12 years as the deputy handling sex offender issues, he was commended by Offender Watch, a sex offender management service, for having no open issues pertaining to sex offender files.
Conrad also earned a 15-year safe driving award, lifesaving award, two times meritorious awards and a commemorative award, the last three pertaining to his efforts with the sex offender registry. He was awarded the Hero award by the American Red Cross for lifesaving, and was recognized with a commendation from Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger for his service to his community.
Conrad said that making sure sex offenders were properly registered was important in regard to “making people in the county aware they’re out there.”
Offenders had to check in with Conrad at various times each year, the frequency determined by their level of offense. He would also make sure they were living where they claimed to be living.
Conrad often had to track down offenders who disappeared without notice and without registering in new locations. Part of his job was bringing felony charges against offenders who did not register, and through the years he lost only one case in court, he said.
Conrad and his wife, Linda, are the parents of two children, a son and his wife and his step-daughter and her husband. Another daughter lost her life in a 2002 car accident. They have three grandchildren, with another on the way in July.
Conrad said he is retiring because “it’s time,” adding, “I’ve done my share.” He said he hopes to do something else for a few years, although he’s not yet sure what that may be. But he’s already had offers come his way as word circulated this week that he was retiring from the sheriff’s office.
But he takes pride in his years of service to the community. “It’s been an absolute honor to serve the people of Highland County,” he said.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 on by email at [email protected]