Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent encourages Harding students

“Born and raised in Marion” and “Marion made” are more than just slogans for Chuck Jones. These ideals are an essential part of who he is and why he has reached the heights he has in his chosen profession.

Jones, a Marion native and 28-year veteran of local and state law enforcement, was elevated to superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in August of this year.. 1991 high school alumnus Marion Harding began her career as a dispatcher for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and later became a Highway Patrol Trooper. On patrol, he rose through the ranks to eventually become a lieutenant colonel in 2021, then take command of the entire agency in 2022.

At the invitation of Marion Harding’s boys basketball coach Jamie Pearson, Jones was back in his hometown this week, stopping by the high school Thursday morning for a promotional photo shoot with members of the presidents basketball team. A highway patrol helicopter was flown in for the photo shoot. He also took the opportunity to impart some wisdom to the young men.

“Everyone has a story. While those stories aren’t always the same, it’s good to be able to give some perspective on our individual stories,” said Jones, who was elevated to the rank of colonel when he took over. was appointed State Superintendent of Ohio. Highway Patrol. “Being born and raised in Marion is home to me. Having the opportunity to come back and spend time with these young men is very, very important. Everyone needs mentors. Everyone needs someone he can look up to and talk to who can relate to them.

Members of the Marion Harding High School boys' basketball team listen to Col. Chuck Jones, Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent, speak to them during a visit to the school on Thursday, 27 October 2022.

Jones grew up in the Fairpark neighborhood on the north side of Marion, noting that he can relate to the young men he spoke to in Harding because he knows many of their families. It was also at Fairpark that he was first inspired to become a law enforcement officer. A Marion Post trooper of the Ohio State Highway Patrol lived nearby and seeing this cruiser in man’s alley every day fanned the flames of a young Jones’ desire to pursue a career in law enforcement. the law.

“As I talk to these young men here, there are a lot of household names for me,” Jones said. “Their parents and their grandparents and aunts and uncles that I grew up with. The important thing for me today was to spend time talking with them and letting them know that anything is possible. where you come from. no matter how you grew up. It can’t be a barrier to success in life. It’s all about making good decisions and having a plan. So I just wanted to share that with them today today.”

Pearson told his players he hopes they will build on the positive example Jones has set to achieve his personal and professional goals.

“Hopefully he can inspire you a bit on things like doing the right thing, doing the right things, the importance of school,” Pearson said. “You should all think about what you’re going to do when you’re out of here. I know some of you would like to play basketball or football or whatever, but whatever, you have to have a plan. And, obviously, this man had a very, very good plan and he’s in a great position now.”

Marion Harding High School telecommunications teacher John Mullins, right, interviews Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Chuck Jones, left, during Jones' visit to the school Thursday, 27 October 2022. Jones brought in a highway patrol helicopter for the photo shoot.

Jones said it’s also important for young people to have positive role models and mentors. He said he was fortunate to have former Marion County Sheriff John Butterworth and other community members as mentors.

“Mine started with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Myself and a few of my brothers had a big brother who spent quality time with us and showed us what we needed to know about to be young men and grow,” Jones said. . “That big brother really showed me the importance of mentorship. Then Sheriff Butterworth gave me my first opportunity in law enforcement and hired me as a terminal in high school as a dispatcher. He didn’t have to, but he saw something in me, and the whole time I worked for the sheriff’s office, John was that father figure, that mentor to me.

“It’s always important to have mentors and people to look up to. They’re the ones who help us get our feet on the ground and get started in life.”

The Marion Harding High School boys' basketball team had the chance to pose for a promotional photo with an Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter on Thursday, October 27, 2022. OSHP Superintendent , Colonel Chuck Jones, a native of Marion, arranged the helicopter flight for the event.  He spoke to the team after the photos were taken.

With law enforcement finding it increasingly difficult to fill vacancies, Jones said he hopes Marion’s youth will seriously consider joining him and others who have dedicated their lives to service. and to protect the general public.

“These young men are at the age where they’re very impressionable and there’s a lot going on in their lives right now,” he said. “We think it’s really important that we can plant that seed earlier, if you want, with them and talk to them about a career in law enforcement and make them understand that law enforcement is a very noble profession.It is important to have the opportunity to talk to them and explain to them that there are certain things that they must do, including keeping their noses clean, so to speak, staying out of trouble, taking good decisions, all those things that we know are important.

“The other part is making them realize there’s a place for them in law enforcement, if that’s something they want to do as a career. But those are the decisions they make. at this point in their lives that set them up for success. Any time we can spend time with young men and women talking about law enforcement and getting them interested, it’s time well spent. We have need good law enforcement officers.

Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @AndrewACCarter

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