LIMA — Among the elements of his job that provide great satisfaction, high on Lt. Tim Grigsby’s list is molding law enforcement officers into community leaders. The commander of the Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol says the image of state troopers as “robotic” is changing, and that’s no accident.
“We’ve had to adapt in how we do things. We have to communicate and treat people like people. Gone are the days when we just pounded people into submission (with traffic laws) through endless citations,” Grigsby told a crowd gathered Friday morning for the Lima-Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s “Real American Sunrise” breakfast.
“Leadership in whatever function is paramount in our community,” the veteran law enforcement officer said. “Leaders set the rules. If the leader is asleep, the followers will do whatever they want. The Ohio State Highway Patrol prides itself in our people doing the right thing, not because of politics but because it’s just the right thing to do.”
With both COVID-19 and social and racial unrest gripping communities across the nation, Grigsby said 2020 “is a different animal, and we as law enforcement officers are much more connected than ever. We demand professionalism and a respectful attitude from our officers and it’s incumbent for me to set the tone.”
With Allen County motorists traveling an estimated 1 billion miles annually on county roadways, Grigsby said it is incumbent that drivers take it upon themselves to obey the rules of the road and drive safely. He knows some won’t, however, and in many instances those drivers’ attention will be distracted by their use of a mobile phone.
“I doubt that Henry Ford thought he’d have to think about people looking at the cell phones” when he mass-produced the automobile, Grigsby said. “But it’s been proven that roads became more dangerous starting in 2012-13 when smartphones became prevalent. One of the dangers we face in the next decade is that kids today as young as 2 years old are being handed cell phones — it’s kind of a pacifier or babysitter — and in a few years when they start to drive, we’re going to ask them to put their phones down.”
A graduate of Elida High School with a career in law enforcement that spans 22 years, Grigsby said highway safety should be a “no-brainer.” When it’s not, troopers are forced to step in.
“We have to balance liberties with too many rules,” the lieutenant said. “But if we all do out part, the number of negative, life-changing events will drop dramatically. We will always be in this together.”
Friday morning’s event was the first such in-person breakfast meeting held by the chamber since the novel coronavirus surfaced in Ohio.