Sheriff to retire

WARREN – The longest-serving sheriff in Trumbull County’s history, Thomas Altiere, will not seek re-election in 2016.

Despite being probably the odds-on favorite to win a seventh term and extend his already impressive streak, Altiere said it’s time to turn in his badge and get out of the law enforcement business.

As far as what his future holds, ”I don’t know,” Altiere said. Maybe he’ll teach at one of the police academies at Youngstown State University or at Kent State University at Trumbull, or if a part-time police chief’s position becomes open, that might draw his interest, he said.

”I don’t want to go from one full-time job to another full-time job,” said Altiere, 64.

He said he certainly won’t reconsider his decision to leave office. There’s ”no turning around” now, nor will he be involved with the politics of narrowing down a successor, he said.

So far, two people – Ernest Cook III, Altiere’s chief deputy and director of the county 911 Center, and Paul Monroe, police chief in Howland – have filed election-related documents indicating their interest. However, there are rumored to be several more people considering a run.

His 22 years so far as the county’s top cop, since he beat former Sheriff Richard Jakmas in the 1992 Democratic primary election in what Altiere said was the ”biggest upset in the history of Trumbull County politics,” have passed in the ”blink of an eye.”

”It’s been a good run, I hope I have made an impact,” Altiere said.

Altiere in his youth wasn’t interested in becoming a police officer. At YSU, he was studying psychology and then was drafted into the Army, where he was made a military police officer. After his service, he said he returned to college and began studying criminal justice. But it wasn’t until he began chatting up a deputy at a high school basketball game in Brookfield that he made up his mind to become a cop.

”I have loved it ever since,” said Altiere.

He was hired on to the sheriff’s office in 1974, worked there about a decade before spending a quick two months as a police sergeant in Weathersfield after the township created its own force, and then was hired as police chief in Howland, where he spent another 10 years or so.

He said friends coaxed him into running for sheriff in 1992 to get his name know publicly for a future attempt, but being chief in Howland, people around Trumbull County already were familiar due to some of the higher-profile cases there, and he wasn’t going to seek election to brighten his future prospects.

”If I’m going to run, I’m going to win,” said Altiere of his outlook from that first election in which he upset Jakmas, who was sheriff for 16 years.

During his time as sheriff, Altiere said he saw the use of technology in policing grow by leaps and bounds and different, better approaches taken by police manage situations involving people with mental health issues.

Also, he helped oversee the construction of the new jail, which wrapped up in 1997 and ushered in the ”birth of the professional correctional officer” in Trumbull County. In addition, he worked with the FBI in the mid-1990s to make the sheriff’s office a test site for wireless technology.

”It’s been a great career and I love it,” said Altiere. ”I’m going to miss it. There is no question I am going to miss it.”