Native Vinton Countian Ryan Cain has won his election for the sheriff of Vinton County position, uncontested this general election. He comes into the position with nearly 17 years of experience, all on Vinton County’s forces, beginning as a trainee in 2004.
With this career move comes a whole new set of goals and plans for the county and Cain alike.
Becoming a police officer is something that has always been a consideration for Cain. When he was young, his uncle passed away in the line of duty for the Columbus Police Department.
“Growing up you never know. When I was about 19 going on 20 I came in and I met the sheriff (Dave Hickey) and he told me what I needed to do,” Cain said. “I followed through with it and I’ve been here ever since.”
In his 17 years with the Vinton County Police Department, Ryan Cain has climbed the ranks from the very bottom. Starting in 2004, he worked part time while going through training. From there he has gone full time as an investigator and worked specifically with narcotics from 2010 until 2015.
Cain’s next career move brought him to the sergeant position, followed by lieutenant, and finally chief deputy. “With that kind of past, I really look forward to, as sheriff, training and bringing everybody to that level.”
Cain has big plans for the department including solving the issue of jailing in the county. There currently isn’t adequate space to house those convicted in the county.
Since the onset of the opioid epidemic, Vinton County police have seen an increase in drug-related crime. Across the state as a whole, opioid deaths have skyrocketed over the past two decades. With demand for product high, the supply will inevitably try to keep up, leading to increased trafficking. Cain listed the lack of jail space to house those arrested as the number one issue.
“Everybody in the state of Ohio is either on overflow and everybody is fighting to try and find beds,” stated Cain.
Beyond tackling the jailing issue, Cain wants to increase patrols and officers in the county to help discourage criminal activity, “I’m also looking to increase the number of boots I can put on the ground...that’s something that also helps deter crime, having people out and about and being seen.”
This could, in turn, help keep demand for beds with less arrests needed.
One of the biggest changes Cain wants to see is in his officers’ relationship with the community. “Police right now are in a bad spot in the nation but really most of them are good people,” he said.
The new sheriff recognizes the need for reform in the hiring of new officers, particularly with background checks to see past on-the-job behavior. Certain rules are in place that dictate what information can be shared from officers’ previous employers.
“I think if an officer has something questionable in his past that is asked about by another department, we should be allowed to have full disclosure,” he said.
In some cases where officers have engaged in questionable behavior, deals can be made with their department to benefit both parties. If an officer is fired, reasoning is put on record but unemployment has to be paid. Since sheriffs offices are budgeted, the money that would be going to an officer as unemployment couldn’t be used to instead hire someone new. To avoid the issue, officers can simply quit. Nothing is put in their file, the department doesn’t have to pay unemployment, and the officer is free to apply elsewhere and muddy the waters in the applicant pool.
To combat the hiring issue, Cain wants to put emphasis on hiring young people directly from the academy, much like he was back in the day.
Cain has not lost hope for the state of policing in Vinton County. He is looking to make genuine change to better the lives of those living here.
He stated, “There is something that we can do. We can fight it. We can try to get back on track.”