It’s official: Swaney takes helm as new sheriff

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
On April 2, the Madison County Republican Central Committee appointed John Swaney as Madison County’s new sheriff. Swaney replaces Jim Sabin who retired last month.

(Posted April 3, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

There’s a new sheriff in town.

On April 2, the Madison County Republican Central Committee voted unanimously to appoint John Swaney as Madison County sheriff. Swaney was the only candidate to throw his hat in the ring.

Swaney replaces Jim Sabin, who stepped down on March 15 for the purpose of retirement. Sabin recommended Swaney, a lieutenant with the department, as his successor. With the county commissioners’ blessing, Swaney served as acting sheriff until the Central Committee made the permanent appointment.

Swaney will serve out the remainder of Sabin’s term, which expires at the end of 2020. He said he plans to run for election to a full term in 2020.

When he started with the department in 1997 as a patrol deputy, Swaney said he didn’t walk through the doors thinking he wanted to be the boss some day.

“I came in doing what I love to do. Through hard work and dedication to the community, this just fell in place,” he said of his appointment to the sheriff’s spot.

Swaney got his start in law enforcement in January 1991 as an auxiliary officer with the West Jefferson Police Department. At the same time, he was working for his parents who owned the Chevron Pool Co.

In June of that year, he landed a part-time job with the Plain City Police Department and two years later went full-time with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

He began his career with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time special deputy sheriff, then in 1999 became a full-time deputy.

Of his first nine years as a patrol deputy, Swaney said, “I loved it. I loved helping people in the community and fighting crime in the county.”

From that position, he moved up the ladder to sergeant then lieutenant before accepting the appointment as sheriff.

“What a great pleasure I had to work for Jim for over a decade during his time as sheriff,” Swaney said of Sabin. “He will be missed but the relationship we have, in times of thought or concern, I know he is in reach if I need help.”

When asked if he has goals in mind for his new job, Swaney said he does but that he wants to get his feet under him first.

“I have to learn how to be a sheriff; there are things only the sheriff does. Once those are in place, I’ll pick my projects to work on,” he said.

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