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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

Pam Risner Retires After 26 Years at the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office

Friends, Family, and the Law Enforcement community gathered at the Ashland County Sherri’s Office Annex room to wish Pam Risner a very happy retirement. Plus, a great meal and reminiscent stories from years gone by.

Sheriff E. Wayne Risner and Chief Deputy Blake kicked off the event with humorous comments, with little jabs at Pam. Both remained cautious in their comments joking about the reason for her retirement. Wayne told the crowd, “Well she is my wife. I’d better be careful,” with Chief Blake saying, “I’d like to have my job for a few more years.”

Ending in the Top Ten Reasons Pam Retired........

Pam Risner then gave the following speech:

Twenty-six years ago, Commissioner Dick Miller made the first 911 call to the Ashland County 911 dispatch center. Twenty-six years ago, I was hired by the commissioners to handle all the pre-911 data and maintenance going forward. One of the most important and momentous jobs implementing the 911 database system was the creation of the MSAG (Master Street Address Guide). Unless you lived it, you cannot even imagine the tremendous amount of time and effort it took to create it. It is the absolute bible of the 911 system and implementing and maintaining the MSAG is absolutely vital! New streets and annexations have come to Ashland County and implementing and maintaining a pristine MSAG is the part of my job that I am most proud of.

There have been MANY changes since 911 was first implemented 26 years ago. Locating and finding tape recordings is a breeze with today’s technology. 26 years ago, was a whole different story. The arrival of caller ID 911 was a really big deal for Ashland County. Before caller ID, getting the location of a caller could be a tremendous challenge to the dispatcher.

I remember well the 911 call where a male caller advised that he had wrecked his motorcycle and was laying severely hurt in a field somewhere. He was able to give a general area, but it took a lot of clever maneuvering to find his location – Officers using their sirens with him advising how close he thought they were. Fast forward to the implementation of caller ID. This same individual went back to the same location, called 911 and we were able to immediately pinpoint his location. When someone calls 911, they expect a quick response! In my 26 years, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that each and every 911 update to our system has SAVED LIVES! In my 26 years, I’ve only seen our 911 system get better and better with each step forward and now with NG (Next Generation), we can now text 911. I can only imagine what else the future holds.

Moving to this location in 2001 was a very exciting time for all of us. We had survived Y2K… lol and looked forward to what the future held.

I’ve been in the dispatch room through some very stressful calls. I was there when the April 7, 2003, fire call came in that claimed the lives of 11-month-old twins. The mother was consequently convicted of the arson death of these girls.

I was there when the fire call came in, to a fire call on County Rd 1153 that took the life of a 5-year-old boy. And who can forget the 2019 fire that took the life of 3 children. This is just the tip of the iceberg to the calls that come into our 911 dispatch center. No matter the call, the dispatchers are professional and get the job done. What you don’t hear or see is how they fall apart afterwards!!! I’m extremely proud to have been a part of the 911 family all these years. And have I mentioned that they are my heroes!!

On the flipside, there have also been some pretty hilarious 911 calls. I will never forget the call that came in from 5-year-old David. Sue Kelley took the call from David and believe it or not it made it to Jay Leno. It was obvious at the beginning of the call that there was no immediate emergency. He advised that he was in the bathroom, but he wouldn’t advise what the problem was. Finally, after some coaxing, in a tearful voice he said… I don’t have any toilet paper… She then coaxed him into getting his mom and in his tearful voice he yelled… Mom come here, I did something!!

My job evolved over the years to include records, records management, reporting and public records requests. All of which I took very seriously! More recently, this also included body and dash cam requests. When the public requests a bodycam you have to watch it in its entirety to determine if there is any portion that would need to be redacted. On more than one occasion I have held my breath and watched in awe as our officers turned around a potentially dangerous situation. Have I mentioned they too are my heroes! One bodycam incident that stands out to me involved officer Wenrich on what I believe was a welfare check call. Officer Wenrich literally ran for his life and barely made it back to his cruiser as he was being chased by a wild turkey! Lol!

In the last 26 years people have come and gone; times have changed, and I’ve been lucky to have been a part of these changes. There have been very happy times, some not so happy times, and some extremely sad times. But through it all, we’ve always had each other’s backs.

Each and every one of you at the sheriff’s office are family to me!

I leave you with two incidents that stand out to me as being the top two contenders for ACSO’s funniest moments to me:

In second place is The Visitor... I was coming out of my office one day to go to dispatch and down the hallway I could see this animal slowly making his way down the hall. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at… did someone bring in a dog???? I slowly crept after it and our visitor turned out to be a raccoon that had somehow found its way into the building.

And first place is what I will call The Hunky Highway Patrolman… A few years ago, there was a pursuit on I71 that ended up in Ashland County, with the suspect crashing his car and fleeing into the wooded area. Eventually the suspect was apprehended. There was going to be a press release in the EMA room, and I was in there making sure everything was set up. The Highway Patrol PR individual from Columbus, who was also involved in the pursuit and search came into the room to prepare his statement for the news teams. He had gotten pretty sweaty, and he asked did I mind if he changed his shirt… I didn’t have any problem at all with that… lol!

The EMA room and dispatch are connected and there is a window with blinds between the two.

As he was changing his shirt, I glanced over at the window and there were two sets of eyeballs peering between the blinds. To this day I don’t know how I kept a straight face!

Thank you to all of you for coming to celebrate my retirement… it means more to me than you will ever know. Thank you for all the hard work that went into making this event so very special… I know the individuals who made this happen. Thank you!

The last 26 years have truly been a ride and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world!

Thank you all!!!

End of speech.

Ashland County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher R. Tunnell commented, “Pam has been a fixture at the Sheriff’s Office for 26 years. Her efforts setting up and maintaining Ashland’s 911 system has saved lives. Pam Risner is one of Ashland’s unsung heroes. The staff of the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office and I wish Pam all the best in retirement.”

Common Pleas Clerk of Courts Deborah A. Myers told me, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Pam and have seen firsthand her dedication to public service. I’m appreciative of her 26 years of serving Ashland County residents, and wish her a long, enjoyable retirement!”

Retired Chief of the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, Carl Richert, who attended Pam Risner’s well deserved retirement celebration today at the Sheriff’s Office said, “What a wonderful send off, after her many years of dedication to the Sheriff’s Office and the community! Pam will truly be missed by all and will leave very big shoes to fill! We wish her a very happy and long retirement! Love you, Pam!”


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