Ohio Sheriff in ‘Smart Meter’ Story That Led to One Woman’s Power Being Cut Tells Us His Side: It Could Have Ended Differently

The Ohio sheriff involved in the smart meter incident where a handicapped woman had her power cut told TheBlaze the situation probably would have ended differently had he personally responded to the power company’s call for an escort to the residence.

Last week TheBlaze and Glenn Beck’s radio program featured stories about Ohio resident Brenda Hawk and her battle against AEP, the local power company. For months the utility was trying to install a “smart meter” at Ms. Hawk’s home. She resisted and managed to delay the installation until February 8th, when representatives from the company, escorted by a sheriff’s deputy, disconnected the power to Hawk’s home. This left the handicapped woman without power to pump water or operate the medical device she needs to breathe as she sleeps.

When Hawk told her story to TheBlaze and to Beck, she said that she asked the “sheriff” on the scene if he was there to protect her rights, he allegedly responded, “No, I’m here to protect them,” referring to the utility workers.

The details of Hawk’s struggle to keep her electricity and not be saddled with a “smart meter” sparked a public outcry that also got the Ohio governor’s office involved. Less than three hours after the story hit TheBlaze, power to Hawk’s home was restored. However, some people started looking in the direction of the Sheriff’s office and asking questions about why the local law enforcement was not protecting the rights of a citizen.

After Hawk appeared on Beck’s radio show last week, questions were raised about the Sheriff of Allen County, Samuel A. Crish.

TheBlaze contacted Sheriff Crish and spoke at length with the elected official about what happened and why. From our interview we learned:

  • Samuel A. Crish is a local Republican. Born and raised in Allen County – and just re-elected as Allen County Sheriff (his second term) – he ran unopposed and earned more votes than almost any candidate generated in the various elections last fall.
  • Crish and his wife have a 21-yr-old son. He also has two step-sons and eleven grandchildren.
  • Sheriff Crish was not on the scene when Brenda Hawk’s power was cut. On site was a deputy from his office.
  • Crish and Hawk have a history – he investigated a previous incident with the same power company, on her property back in 2002.
  • Had he known about the request for a patrol car to Ms. Hawk’s home, Crish would have taken the call himself.

Allen County is a Republican county and voters overwhelmingly supported GOP candidates in the 2012 election. Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama 61% to 37%.

Crish ran unopposed in his most recent election and, considering his party affiliation and the county’s political leanings, he earned 100% of the votes cast.  In fact, more Allen County residents voted for Crish (38,349) than voted for the winners from the U.S. Senate and House races. (Senator Sherrod Brown got 17,456, Rep. Jim Jordan was elected with 31,072 votes)

Concerning the incident with Ms. Hawk. TheBlaze reviewed the incident report filed on February 8th. Deputy Chuck Ganson was the Sheriff’s office representative who escorted the utility workers to the scene and handled the brief interaction with Hawk. As mentioned above, Sheriff Crish told TheBlaze that he would have taken the call himself, had he known about it.

“I know Brenda Hawk. And because of my previous interaction with her, had I known about it, I would have gone there,” he said. “I think I could have talked to both sides and come up with a better result.”

That previous interaction with Hawk is in reference to a 2002 incident that ended with her being arrested and eventually found guilty of aggravated menacing. The utility company was trying to trim some of the trees around the power lines and Brenda tried to prevent them by allegedly using a slingshot and a rifle to scare off the work crew.

Hawk went to trial, was found guilty, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $10 fine. She paid the fine and the jail sentence was suspended.

Image: Allen County

Since 2002, there have been no problems between the power company and Hawk — until February 8th.

Sheriff Crish was very clear that he knew that state law prevents power companies from disconnecting service from elderly and handicapped residents during winter months. Although the law was written to prevent power from being cut to people who were behind on payments, Crish told us that he believed he could have negotiated a better result than the one that happened earlier this month.

TheBlaze asked the sheriff where he stood on protecting a citizen who wanted to keep their electrical power without having a “smart meter.” Crish answered:

“Our office does not have anything to do with whether or not someone wants a smart meter or not. If a citizen does not want one, they will have to take that up with the power company. The only reason we were ever called to her residence was (because) of what happened in 2002. Our purpose was just to make sure all parties involved would be safe. The power company should have never shut off her power. They simply should have left and looked into other options, especially since she was saying that she had a medical condition.”

When asked why he did not know that a patrol car was going to Hawk’s home, he explained:
“I have 168 people that work for me and I cannot be aware of what every single one of them is doing all the time. If the call had been for something serious and not just a request for an escort, I would have probably been notified.”
Considering the “smart meter” controversy focuses on personal rights, we thought it appropriate to ask about another personal rights controversy: gun control. Where does Sheriff Crish stand on the recent efforts to restrict gun ownership in America?
As far as the Issue on Gun Rights,  I am a definitely a believer in the Second Amendment.  The Second Amendment was put in the Constitution so citizens could protect themselves.  Why should we punish the law abiding citizen? The criminals will never obey any laws. If they want weapons they will get them so the law abiding citizen would have no way to protect themselves. It’s the criminal we need to worry about not the law abiding citizen.
I think you have to look at the whole puzzle not just once piece. That’s not the answer. You have to look at all of the pieces of the puzzle. Example: violence. Look at what’s on the internet, on TV and the video games these kids are playing today. There are a lot of parents that use the x-box or play station as a form of a way to baby sit so these kids sit and play these games for hours (violent games). We also need to look at mental health issues/prosecution. These are just a few things they (the government) should take a look at.

Crish has been working full time for the Allen County Sheriff’s office since 1991. Before he was promoted to Major, Crish was named the Allen County Officer of the Year in 2005. He worked his way from a Juvenile Court Officer all the way up to the elected position of Sheriff. Last month, he swore the oath for a second term.

The sheriff will join the Glenn Beck Radio program Thursday morning to explain his story.

Editor’s Note: TheBlaze’s Mike Opelka joined Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker to discuss this story on Thursday’s BlazeCast:


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