Greene County Sheriff Marcus Simms said he is proud of the many positive things he and his staff were able to accomplish for area residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is the focus on those positives, he believes, that will help Greene County not just survive the pandemic, but thrive, in 2021 and beyond. And that is one reason why he has recently announced his intention to run again for sheriff in the May primary election.
“Throughout the unknown times of this global pandemic, our office, along with many others, had to adapt and overcome,” he said. “A lot of good work has been done, and I want to see that through. I want to see that hard work continue and develop, for the benefit of our residents who have been through so much.”
Simms said his department has found new ways to continue assisting the community, implementing the addition of a shift to assist other agencies and to better provide services to county residents.
“We found our solution to assisting our citizens through Ben McMillen and the Masks for Greene County Project,” he said. “In the early days of COVID, we found that no masks were available, and that McMillen came up with a solution to make masks for free for the people of Greene County. McMillen, recognizing the risk to our community over the availability to make money, made masks for free for anyone that needed one.
“It is estimated that my office delivered over 3,000 masks through this project,” he added. “We continue to offer masks at our courthouse and the Fort Jackson building for those coming into the facility needing one.”
Additionally, the sheriff’s office worked with the Greene County Commissioners to utilize a satellite office when the county courthouse was closed to continue to issue concealed carry permits throughout the pandemic.
“We placed our lower-risk deputies at this satellite office to reduce the risk to our own staffing,” Simms said. “We were one of the first sheriff’s offices in the state to implement the use of a satellite office to continuing to process concealed carry permits.”
Simms said his department also implemented security at the offices of the three county magisterial district judges to assist with pandemic requirements as well as ensuring the safety of staff and residents attending hearings.
He also said he has implemented the use of deputies to fill in at schools when the school resource officer and D.A.R.E officer is off duty, as well as the use of a special response vehicle for assisting in “getting to locations regular vehicles cannot.”
“I quickly realized that we could not just sit idly by during this pandemic and needed to go outside of our typical duties to serve our citizens during the pandemic,” he said.
Simms is also proud his office received a side-by-side vehicle in 2020 that was previously acquired by the county parks and recreation department on a grant in 2013.
“This side-by-side now serves as a special-response vehicle to provide access to locations that patrol vehicles, ambulances and fire apparatuses can not reach,” Simms said. “We received donations to mark the side-by-side and a trailer to transport the trailer. Due to most court hearings being conducted through video conferencing, deputies were able to spend time to repurpose our emergency lights and siren from previously decommissioned vehicles onto the special response vehicle.”
He is also proud of the sheriff’s office decision to split current personnel into two shifts to assist local and state law enforcement, after recognizing a slower case load due to video conferencing rather than transporting for in-person hearings as result of the pandemic.
“This proved to be very productive with our K-9 unit locating a firearm believed to be utilized in the commission of a crime and assisting on multiple productive search warrants,” he said.
Simms said he is excited about the near future for his department. Within the next few months, he said the sheriff’s office is expected to receive an estimated $80,000 in donations and funds.
“These donations have provided equipment to the sheriff’s office and in turn additional resources to the citizens of Greene County without costing the tax payers of Greene County,” he said. “Some of this equipment includes a K-9, a special response vehicle and ballistic helmets.”
Simms said the majority of the donations will be announced in April.
“I cannot thank my staff enough for going above and beyond our typical service throughout this pandemic to help the citizens of Greene County,” Simms said.
Prior to being elected sheriff in 2019, Simms – a certified Pennsylvania sheriff and municipal law enforcement officer with 10 years of experience in law enforcement in Greene County – served under the late Sheriff Brian Tennant as his chief deputy.
Simms began his law enforcement career in 2011 with the county sheriff’s office. He attended night and weekend classes at California University during his time as a full-time deputy to obtain his municipal police officer certification. Upon completion, Simms attended the sheriff’s waiver course to obtain his sheriff’s certification.
Simms has nine years of working at a local police department and nine years of working at the sheriff’s office, with four of those years being full-time at both departments.
Simms is a certified handgun, rifle, shotgun and less than lethal munitions instructor. With these certifications, he trains and certifies deputies and officers. In addition, he assists a local firearms instructor with civilian firearm classes.
Simms, a lifetime resident of Greene County, graduated from West Greene High School and Westminster College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He earned his municipal law enforcement certification through California University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Deputy certification through Penn State University.
During his time in law enforcement, Simms has received a Life Saving Award, Merit Award, Accommodation Award and Distinguished Service Award.
He lives in Waynesburg with his wife, Brittney, and their two-year-old daughter, Parker. He is a member of the NRA, Waynesburg Sportsman’s Club, Moose Lodge 461 and other clubs.