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LEC 2021: Honoring service, dedication & bravery


Law Enforcement Conference 2021 logo One of the primary goals of the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Conference is to honor and celebrate great work by law enforcement officers and their partners. Every year, whether the event takes place virtually or in person, the Distinguished Law Enforcement Awards are bestowed in seven categories. This year’s winners:


Retired Cmdr. Marvin Cross, Cleveland Division of Police

Retired Cmdr. Marvin Cross, Cleveland Division of Police

While serving Cleveland for 24 years with the police department, Cmdr. Cross never met a problem he couldn’t face down with action, usually an innovative program he created to get results and improve lives.

During his time on the force, Cmdr. Cross spent 14 years on the fugitive unit, developing a tracking system that reduced arrest costs by 22% and resulted in the capture of 2,500 fugitives.

As a member of the recruiting team, he developed strategies and education programs that led to a 30% increase in minority applicants and a 20% increase on entrance-exam scores. In other units, he supervised 21 mini-stations and created programs that cut school violence by 30% and hate crimes by 40%.

But Cmdr. Cross’ goals weren’t just about putting numbers of the board. Cmdr. Cross volunteered as an assistant coach for the Greater Cleveland Schools All-Stars basketball team for 17 years, helping 12- and 13-yearold boys build friendships beyond their neighborhoods. He created a bookbag giveaway and Christmas toy drive; worked to develop younger officers; and helped lead the Black Shield Police Association, an advocacy group for minority officers.

With his retirement, Cmdr. Cross didn’t give up his roles as guardian and mentor. He simply transitioned to private security and has spent 14 years working with the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the U.S. national basketball team and Special Olympics teams.


The late Victoria Allen of Youngstown

Victoria Allen, Youngstown Crime Stoppers

Allen was called both a superhero and “the epitome of a servant leader” for her extraordinary efforts to bring together her Youngstown neighbors and local law enforcement. The Attorney General’s Office and OPOTA send condolences to Allen’s family, friends and community, for whom the activist’s passing on Sept. 21 has left a profound void.

A married mother of three and a mother-in-spirit to dozens more, Allen led one of the most active Block Watches in Youngstown as well as Crime Stoppers of Greater Youngstown and the South Avenue Area Neighborhood Development Initiative (SAANDI).

City leaders and law enforcement officers knew her well, not only for welcoming them into her home and offering to share home-cooked meals but also for spending countless unpaid hours organizing mass events to unite the community. Before her death in September, she regularly planned neighborhood holiday celebrations, parades and dinners; block parties that topped 1,000 people; and donation drives and other help for needy families.

No fewer than nine police officers and a county judge nominated Allen for this award, with multiple submissions mentioning her work locating missing children, lost or wandering elders, and wanted fugitives; gathering information about crimes; and helping to calm crowds that gather at the scene of violent crimes.

Allen, who worked for 24 years as a customer-support supervisor at State Alarms, was a respected community leader sought out by most everyone when they needed any kind of help.

Attorney General Dave Yost is renaming this honor the Victoria Allen Distinguished Civilian Leadership Award in recognition of her remarkable community efforts.


Chief Arthur L. Fowler Jr., Wintersville Police Department

Chief Arthur L. Fowler Jr., Wintersville Police Department

Chief Fowler has dedicated his life to helping the people of Wintersville, and his 20 years at the local police department are just one piece of his efforts.

Chief Fowler serves as a coach for the Indian Creek Chiefs youth football program and treasurer for the league. He serves as treasurer of the Ohio Valley Football League, a board member for the child advocacy center A Caring Place and a mentor for local at-risk youth. All of these good deeds create bridges to the younger generation and provide them the best impression of law enforcement.

But helping kids is not the only cause that moves Chief Fowler to volunteer. He is also a member of the Jefferson County I-Team for Prevention of Elderly Abuse and has been honored by the Adult Protective Unit of Jefferson County Job and Family Services for his efforts to prevent elderly abuse and educate the public.

Not one to go about life passively, he is also a member of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police’s Community Relations and Engagement Committee. And he serves as a firefighter and an EMT.

Chief Fowler puts his life — and his enormous heart — on the line for the good of Wintersville.


Chief Jerome Klue, Akron Children’s Hospital Police Department

Chief Jerome Klue, Akron Children’s Hospital Police Department

Chief “Jerry” Klue has spent more than 40 years educating prospective, new and active peace officers in basic and advanced training, as well as police and fire dispatchers and civilians of all ages.

The impact of Chief Klue’s training cannot be overstated. The certified trainer for OPOTC and the National Emergency Communications Institute has led train-the-trainer courses and helps 911 operators improve at their jobs. He has taught basic and advanced police training, college-level criminal justice classes and traffic safety for community members. He also helped to create the state training framework for school resource officers.

Since his early years on the job, Klue has pushed the importance of Crisis Intervention Training, which arms officers with de-escalation techniques and skills to aid those suffering a mental-health crisis. As part of the Summit County Police Chiefs’ Association, Chief Klue worked with mental-health experts to build a CIT program for all peace officers in the county, then made implementation possible by creating buy-in and finding a way to fund it.

As a result, he was honored with a 2021 CIT Law Enforcement Leader of the Year Award, one of the many times through the years that his dedication has been recognized by local, state and national groups.


Detective Todd Comer, Miami Township Police Department

Detective Todd Comer, Miami Township Police Department

After he became a detective almost 30 years ago, Comer developed a specialty for investigating crimes against children, which sparked a passion for helping those unable to help themselves.

A member of the Miami Township Police Department in Montgomery County since 1988, Detective Comer has become the “go-to” investigator for intense homicide, child abuse and sex assault cases. His meticulous approach and dedication result in justice served, as well as a respected reputation.

Outside of his work hours, Detective Comer has sought to make life better for youngsters. For seven years, he volunteered at the Dayton-based Ronald McDonald House Charities, serving as a handyman, organizing donations and doing whatever else the leaders and families of sick children needed. A manager called him the most reliable of volunteers.

For three years, Detective Comer volunteered with the Dayton Victory Project, a faith-based, after-school nonprofit serving disengaged teenage boys in the inner city. The detective provided monthly meals, with no regard for the personal cost, to 50 or so teens, and he stayed after eating to mentor them. These young men respected Detective Comer because he earned the right to be heard, and they listened.

Detective Comer’s actions show him to be selfless and authentic — traits that our communities need now more than ever.


Pike County Rhoden Murder Task Force

It took intense teamwork and dedication to execute the biggest murder investigation in Ohio history.

In the five years after eight members of the Rhoden family were killed in Pike County, local and state investigators poured thousands of hours into finding those responsible. More than 1,100 tips were cleared; 500 interviews completed; 700 pieces of evidence tested; and 500 subpoenas, search warrants and court orders requested.

The dogged efforts led investigators to suspect and arrest another family: the Wagners, who had lived in Pike County at the time of the murders and then moved to Alaska.

In the spring, Jake Wagner, 28, pleaded guilty to all eight murders, including that of the 19-year-old mother of his daughter. Jake, who will spend the rest of his life in prison, has been cooperating with prosecutors and confirmed that the heinous plot was sparked by a custody dispute.

And in September, his mother, Angela Wagner, also pleaded guilty for her role in plotting the massacre. Her son George Wagner IV and her husband, George “Billy” Wagner, were awaiting trial as of the writing of this story.

The team being honored includes:

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation

  • Special Agent Ryan Scheiderer (lead agent)
  • Special Agent Supervisor Kevin Barbeau
  • Special Agent Jennifer Comisford
  • Special Agent Supervisor Roger Davis
  • Forensic Scientist Suzanne Elliott
  • Criminal Intelligence Analyst Julia Eveslage
  • Criminal Intelligence Supervisor Dana Forney
  • Special Agent Todd Fortner
  • Special Agent James Gore
  • Special Agent Shane Hanshaw
  • Special Agent Chadwick Holcomb
  • Special Agent Jonathan Jenkins
  • Special Agent Supervisor William Jones
  • Forensic Accountant Michael Kaizar
  • Victim Advocate Cindy Kuhr
  • Criminal Intelligence Analyst Jennifer Lester
  • Special Agent James Mulford
  • Special Agent Perry Roeser
  • Special Agent Supervisor Justin Root
  • DNA Lab Director Kristen Slaper
  • Special Agent Richard Ward
  • Forensic Scientist Matthew White

Formerly of BCI/Attorney General’s Office

  • Special Agent Stephfon Daniels
  • Special Agent Scott Fitch
  • Special Agent Seth Hagaman 
  • Assistant Superintendent Karen Huey
  • Special Agent Cornelius McGrady
  • Computer Forensic Analyst Jonathan Robbins
  • Superintendent Thomas Stickrath
  • Special Agent-in-Charge Benjamin Suver
  • Special Agent Supervisor Michael Trout
  • Special Agent Bryan White
  • Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement Stephen Schumaker

Local Sheriff’s Offices

  • Maj. Alan Lewis (co-lead investigator) — Ross County, formerly of Pike County
  • Maj. Timothy Dickerson — formerly of Pike County


  • Lead Prosecutor Angie Canepa
  • Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk
  • Assistant Prosecutor Andy Wilson


Officers Heather Bauer, Sean Connor and Michael Guarnieri, Norton Police Department

Officer Heather Bauer, Norton Police Department Officer Sean Connor, Norton Police Department Officer Michael Guarnieri, Norton Police Department


Thanks to the courageous action of these three officers, an elderly couple survived a fire that seriously damaged their home and killed a relative.

When a passer-by called officers to the house in the Summit County city of Norton, flames were already licking out of the front windows. Officers Bauer, Connor and Guarnieri arrived and, not knowing whether anyone was home, circled to the back and broke through a steel door.

Inside, they found a locked first-floor bedroom. When they couldn’t bust through the door, Officer Connor forced it off its hinges, essentially opening the door backward. Shocked awake were the 82-year-old man and 78-year-old woman; the officers and a newly arrived firefighter helped them to safety.

The disoriented couple told the responders that the woman’s 69-year-old brother lived on the second floor, and Officers Connor and Guarnieri rushed back inside. They tried multiple times to reach him — the quickly worsening conditions blocked each attempt — until Officer-in-Charge Bauer ordered them to exit the home for their own safety.

The brother died of smoke inhalation, and the husband was hospitalized and recovered. But surely, if it hadn’t been for the officers, who didn’t hesitate to put their own lives on the line, all three residents would have perished.