Steve Schumaker oversees the law enforcement functions of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Here, he shares thoughts on his job, his background, and the office.
On the law enforcement arm of the AG’s office:
I want law enforcement agencies to think of us as their force multiplier. We have assembled many assets to assist them. We’re not here to take over their cases, but we can be of assistance to them with investigations and prosecutions. That’s the main goal here: to make local law enforcement more effective by bringing our assets in line with theirs.
On his role as deputy AG for law enforcement:
My job entails coordinating the law enforcement efforts of the office and working with local agencies, seeing how the Attorney General’s Office can assist them in their functions. I also help the Attorney General determine our law enforcement priorities and bring together assets — not only from the AG’s office, but from throughout state government — to help address law enforcement problems.
On his observations of the office:
I came here after 34 years with the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office — two as a clerk, six as an assistant, and 26 as the elected prosecutor. And throughout that time I relied on the Attorney General’s Office for a number different services and assets. When I came here, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the individuals throughout the office. Of course, I was familiar with a lot of that through my work in the prosecutor’s office. All of the sections bring specific assets to bear.
For instance, take the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, which has a regional training program. We’re doubling the number of regional courses this year to make it easier for law enforcement officers to get trained. And that’s incredibly important.
The Health Care Fraud area is just burgeoning. And we’ve added an additional investigative team to that area of the office. It’s extremely important to root out fraud and waste in the health care area.
The Criminal Justice Section. People just don’t realize the amount of work they do in protecting the very important convictions that prosecutors obtain throughout this state. Or the amount of corrections litigation in the prisons after those inmates are convicted. Our Corrections Unit does a great job in assisting the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in those cases. Our Special Prosecutions Unit, we’ve added some people there. And they’re going around the state on a day-to-day basis assisting prosecutors. They are excellent trial lawyers.
BCI is made up of great people who do amazing work. When I travel throughout the state, I get nothing but enthusiastic feedback about BCI and the direction we’re going there. In my 32 years as a trial lawyer, I was never disappointed in a witness from BCI on the stand. They are truly professional. And we’re adding capability — in the lab, in the Cyber Crimes Unit, in the Crime Scene Unit, in the Polygraph Unit — to make that an even better agency.
Within the Organized Crime Investigations Commission, we’re working with all the task forces to determine which ones need to be encouraged further and which have basically accomplished the goals that we’ve set out to accomplish. And we’re out there soliciting ideas from local law enforcement on task forces that could assist them in addressing specific problems in their jurisdictions. That’s going very, very well.
The Crime Victim Section has had a number of initiatives and does incredibly important work throughout the state as far as funding many, many different victims programs, child advocacy centers, and such. I could go on and on about their work. We’re working very hard to see how we can improve services to victims throughout the state.
And while I don’t oversee our Consumer Protection Section, I also want to mention the criminal capability that’s been placed there and the successes that they’re already having in generating cases. These simply weren’t being addressed because some of the local departments didn’t have all the capabilities and assets to address them. We’re partnering now with those local agencies to try to get them those assets.
On the road ahead:
We’ve got the opportunity to forge tremendous partnerships around the state, and those partnerships will affect people’s lives. I see cases being developed that were not previously being developed. And those cases all involve real people, real victims, who we’re able to assist. That’s going to grow, and together with local law enforcement, I think we can make a real impact.
On his introduction to the criminal justice system:
My first law enforcement exposure, so to speak, was at the end of a gun when I was 16 years old. I was a victim of an aggravated robbery when I was working my very first job — at a dry-cleaning business. That got me interested in the criminal justice system. The individual was apprehended and released on bond. He saw me one day as I was delivering dry cleaning in the company van and chased me through town back to the dry cleaning plant. It was quite an introduction to the criminal justice system for a 16-year-old boy, but it all turned out well and gave me a perspective that has been valuable throughout my career.
On how being a prosecutor prepared him for this post:
I tried my first felony case in the fall of 1978 and tried them constantly until I came here in January. When I took this job, I told the attorney general there was one case I had to go back to try for that victim’s family. So I returned in September and tried that case with the Clark County prosecutor and one of my retired former assistants. The jury and judge found the appropriate sentence was death.
When you are a prosecuting attorney and you’re active with the victims, you’re active with the police, you’re at the scenes, when you see first-hand people’s pain, when you see — quite frankly — death and the destruction of families and some of the worst things that can happen to individuals, you can’t help but know how important this work is. It’s not an academic exercise. It’s real world. It’s real people.
There’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction in those cases, when you realize that you’ve assisted those victims, that you’ve helped ease their fears, when you’ve given them a sense that justice is possible and that you can help them.
So when I come here and I’m a little bit removed from the day-to-day courtroom, I nevertheless have an appreciation for everything we do here to assist local law enforcement and to assist victims. I’ve stood outside surgical rooms where we wondered whether an officer was going to live or die. I’ve been in ERs talking to victims and police officers as cases are going on.
The Steve Schumaker file
Position: Deputy attorney general for law enforcement
Last job: Clark County prosecutor, 1985–2010
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, Wittenberg University; law degree, The Ohio State University
Professional affiliations: Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association (past president, Outstanding Prosecuting Attorney of 1996, Leadership Award recipient) and Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation (past president and current member of the board of directors)
Family: Wife of 33 years, Robyn Koch-Schumaker; sons, Alexander and Ryan; daughter, Laura
On the side: Steve is a certified divemaster with the Wright State University Scuba Program and a member of the dive crew at Newport Aquarium in Newport, Ky. “I find it similar to law enforcement: You plan your dive and dive your plan, but you have to be ready for anything. It’s just been fascinating to me, and it’s very relaxing.”