Knox County Sheriff

Sheriff David Shaffer

Sheriff Shaffer’s law enforcement career began as a volunteer special deputy with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in 1985. In 1987 he was hired by Chief Jerry Day as a full time patrolman with the Fredericktown Police Department. In 1993 Sheriff Shaffer joined the Knox County Sheriff’s Office as a midnight shift patrol deputy. While working for Sheriff David Barber he served as a K-9 handler and was one of the original members of the agency’s Tactical Response Unit, later becoming the team leader.
Shaffer rose through the ranks from deputy to patrol sergeant, to lieutenant, to division commander in charge of patrol, records, and civil process. His next step was serving as captain before being elected Knox County Sheriff. Shaffer is a past recipient of the National Sheriff’s Association Medal of valor and the Ohio Attorney General’s Distinguished Law Enforcement Group Achievement Award.

"I am proud to have grown up and raised my family in Knox County. I enjoy working in the field of law enforcement and being a part of a great team."

Sheriffs of Knox County

Silas Brown 1808 John G. Stevenson 1887-90
Ichabod Nye 1809-13 John G. Fowler 1891-92
John Hawn 1813-17 Noah W. Allen 1893-94
John Shaw 1817-19 Charles S. Sapp 1895-96
Alexander Elliot 1819-20 Justus D. Smoots 1897-1900
William Beavans 1820-24 Isaac C. Lynde 1901-03
Charless Colerick 1824-28 James Shellenbarger 1903-05
John Shaw 1828-29 Rollin C. Clements 1905-08
Johnston Elliot 1829 Peter J. Parker 1908-13
Hugh Neal 1830-34 John M. Woolison 1913-17
Isaac Hadley 1834-36 Walter B. Mosholder 1917-21
William Beam 1836-40 Burr H. Lytle 1921-25
Absalom Thrift 1843-46 Clifton G. Stream 1925-29
David C. Montgomery 1847-50 Hoy C. Lynde 1929-33
Thomas Wade 1851-54 F. Dowe Mason 1933-37
Lewis Strong 1855-56 Clyde E. Biggs 1937-41
Israel Underwood 1857-60 Charles R. Lawrence 1941-44
James Shaw 1861-62 Bertha Lawrence 1944-45
Allen Beach 1863-64 Salathiel Bumpus 1945-53
George W. Steele 1865-68 Paul M. Cochran 1953-65
Allen Beach 1869-72 Ralph D. Peairs 1965-77
John Armstrong 1873-76 Paul K. Rowe 1977-93
John Ferguson Gay 1877-80 David B. Barber 1993-2013
John A. Schnebly 1881-82 David Shaffer 2013-
Allen J. Beach 1883-86

History of the Knox County Sheriff's Office

The American Sheriffs trace their heritage back to ninth century England when the King had a personal representative in each shire, whose title was Shire Reeve. A shire was the equivalent of an American county, and the title Shire Reeve evolved into a single word: Sheriff.

When English subjects came to the New World, they brought with them the traditions of the English criminal justice system, including the office of the Sheriff.

The first Sheriff of Knox County was Silas Brown who was appointed in 1808. In his first year, Sheriff Brown performed the first public whipping of a criminal in Mount Vernon. Our first county jail was built on what is now the present square in Mount Vernon in 1809.
In 1877, Knox County Sheriff John Fersuson Gay conducted the county’s first public execution by hanging convicted murderer William Bergin.
In May 1905, Sheriff James Shellenbarger was shot while attempting to arrest a man named Frank Coile in Miller Township for assault. Sheriff Shellenbarger never recovered from his wounds and died five months later.
In 1913, a new Knox County Jail was built next to the County Court House on East Chestnut Street, which served as the residence of the Sheriffs and their families for many years.

Sheriff Hoy Lynde, who served from 1929 to 1933, was the father of “Hollywood Squares” celebrity and film star Paul Lynde.

In 1938, Sheriff Clyde Biggs escorted Fred Mosley to the Ohio Penitentiary, where Mosley was the first person from Knox County to die in the electric chair for the murder of his wife.

From 1944 to 1945, Knox County had its first woman Sheriff, Bertha Lawrence, wife of Sheriff Charles Lawrence. Bertha was appointed to finish her husband’s unexpired term after he died in office unexpectedly at the age of forty-one.

It was not until 1945 that any of the Sheriffs of Knox County ever served more than four years in office at one time.
The Knox County Special Deputies Unit was formed in 1955, the first such unit in the State of Ohio.
The current Knox County Sheriff’s Office and 100 bed jail opened on Upper Gilchrist Road in 2002, replacing the ninety year old Chestnut Street Jail, which has been torn down for parking at the court house.
Sheriff David Barber was the longest serving Sheriff in the history of Knox County, who, at the end of his term, served as the county’s chief law enforcement officer for twenty years.

In 2007, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office became only the fifth Ohio Sheriff’s Office to be internationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement agencies.

In 2010, that distinction was maintained as the Sheriff’s Office was re-accredited by CALEA.


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