When Scott Nichols originally ran for the position of Sheriff, he did so at the urgent request of many of the members of the organization. They knew that their Sheriff’s Office was in need of substantial change. Scott Nichols, knowing the people who worked there possessed abilities far and above what they were being allowed to use, threw his hat into the ring. Scott Nichols running for Sheriff was never about him or his ego or simply because he wanted to be Sheriff; it was about the employees and the citizens of Franklin County. He continues with the same mindset today.
Even before Scott Nichols was first elected as Sheriff, he was on the original board that oversaw the building and implementation of a new standalone dispatch center. He has always been supportive of seeking new and better ways to provide necessary services without unnecessary increases in property taxes. Sheriff Nichols continues to support changes that will improve the necessary services to all first responders of Franklin County that dispatchers provide.
With the help of the jail staff and a huge amount of hard work locally, with the BOC and with the legislature, we were able to re-open the jail after its seven-year downgrade to a holding facility. We had to hire fewer staff than were employed there before and found ways to cut corners and trim line items in order to stay within the allowed budget. All corrections services however were successfully
restored. As a testament to the hard work of all the corrections staff and the leadership of Sheriff Nichols, Department of Corrections bi-annual inspections continually result in the highest ratings possible. This, despite continued jail funding shortfalls.
Much needed infrastructure improvements we have been able to accomplish at the jail include replacing the roof and upgrading the HVAC from an old pneumatic system to a digital system.
With the help of the patrol command staff, we have been able to establish a top rate patrol and investigative unit with state of the art equipment and training. The deputies working in Franklin County are some of the most kind, professional, committed and thoughtful police officers we could ever hope to have serving our public. Through a thorough hiring process we have been able to attract and retain these exceptional professionals. Each of them know we hold them to the highest standards, because that is what our county deserves, the very best.
Having all of this in the rear-view mirror, we continually look toward the future - building upon our accomplishments of the past.
Part of the building process for the future must focus upon the jail itself. We have been working with the County Commissioners, and our Board of Visitors to evaluate the needs of the 37 year old facility. Looking specifically
to improve our ability to provide the best possible services for a jail our size. A Board of Visitors never existed at the jail until Sheriff Nichols found local volunteers to serve as a separate set of eyes to help identify needs for inmates and corrections staff. Statutorily, a Board of Visitors ordinarily only looks at a jail’s mental health services, however Sheriff Nichols expanded that to include all services in the jail. With their help we will continue to identify and remedy any deficiencies, seek financial resources, to include grants, to assist with improvements while always mindful of staying within a very limited budget.
In regard to the future of patrol, we have been working for nearly three years to fund a tenth full-time patrol deputy position*. We have realized this goal in 2020. The State funding we have received is dedicated specifically to improve the services the Sheriff’s Office provides to the UT’s (Unorganized Townships). This position is fully funded by the State and will not increase our local property taxes. With the imminent addition of this position, we have already begun working with our collective bargaining unit (patrol union) to implement a new patrol schedule which will further improve our coverage for the entire county.
As we look to the future we do so with one point of view: to continue to provide the very best services possible that protect your physical wellbeing, civil rights and property, while ever mindful that budget increases mean property tax increases.
Looking to the Future... building upon our accomplishments of the past.
*Additional patrol position public information: