In November, Lt. Shawn D. Cook, above, was named post commander for the Marysville Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Since then, a global pandemic, wide spread racial unrest and protests about law enforcement have changed the way police interact. (Photo submitted)
When Lt. Shawn D. Cook took command of the Marysville Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in November, he had a certain philosophy of law enforcement.
Since then, law enforcement, and much of the world has changed.
“As far as planning goes, I don’t know that I would have said, ‘I see my command going this way,’” Cook said.
And while Cook recognizes that operations must change, his philosophy cannot.
“Professional law enforcement is paramount and I want to continue to provide the professionalism the highway patrol has been known for,” Cook said. “It was always my expectation as a commander to enhance and own that piece. That really has not changed since the time I started.”
“We still have a responsibility to provide professional law enforcement services. What has changed is the way we provide those services,” Cook added.
He said that when he started, he never anticipated needing to schedule significant time each day for troopers to clean their vehicles and equipment. He said he never anticipated daily runs to and from Battelle in West Jefferson so the local hospital and other organizations would have clean masks.
He said the patrol now limits how many troopers respond to a crash scene and how they interact with the public.
“These things have changed and become daily routine for our troopers,” Cook said.
The commander said one command element has surprised him. He said protecting the men under him is vital.
“The level at which a commander has to provide safety and security, I had never thought about,” Cook said.
Cook grew up in Wren, Ohio, in Van Wert, graduating from Crestview High School. He owned a lawn mowing company from the age of 8 to 19. At 17, he joined the Ohio National Guard and was sent to Ft. Benning, Georgia.
When he returned, he attended Tiffin University, where he ran track and worked as a security guard.
In 2001, Cook was accepted at the OSP Police Academy as a cadet dispatcher. He said before he could begin his cadet training, “Sept. 11 happened.”
Cook’s unit was deployed as part of Operation Noble Eagle. Cook helped provide security at Ft. Knox in Kentucky and served as a retention officer for the National Guard.
Because it had been two years since he was accepted at the academy, “I had to start over,” Cook said.
In March 2004, Cook graduated from the police academy and was assigned to the Defiance Post.
He was there until his National Guard unit was deployed again, this time to provide security in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. When he returned, he was assigned to the Van Wert Post.
In 2014, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and remained at the Van Wert Post to serve as an assistant post commander. As sergeant, he also served at the Lima Post.
He was selected as Post Trooper of the Year five times; District Trooper of the Year twice; and State Trooper of the Year in 2012. He earned the Ace Award for excellence in auto larceny enforcement three times and the Criminal Patrol Award twice.
In November 2019, Cook was promoted to lieutenant and moved to the Marysville Post.
“Marysville was a good opportunity for me personally and a good opportunity for me professionally,” Cook said, noting that he applied for the transfer.
The location does pose its own issues.
Cook said that security for planned events is divided across the state, but as spontaneous protests and other events occur, Marysville’s “proximity to Columbus does make it more vulnerable to calls for service.”
Moving forward, Cook wants the community to, “have faith and be comfortable with the fact that the highway patrol post that serves their community has an expectation and a sensitivity of providing professional law enforcement services.”
He said many of his troopers live and are invested in the community.
“The highway patrol has always been the pinnacle of professionalism in law enforcement in the state and we will continue to uphold that,” Cook said. “That extends not only to the people we come into contact with through our day to day activities, but also to our stake holders and the entire community.”
He added, “We want people to give us an opportunity for them to see the good that we want and the good that we do.”
...For the full story, select an option below.