By EILEEN MCCLORY
Craig Spieker knew he wanted to be a law enforcement officer around the same time he started riding a bike.
It runs in the family — his brother is a police officer, and his father was a police officer.
Spieker served with the Findlay Police Department, retiring in 2012. While he currently works for Hanco EMS, he is still a peace officer with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office Special Deputies.
“Public service is not a choosing. It’s a calling,” said Spieker, who has been a peace officer since 1990.
The Hancock County Special Deputies is a way for him to continue giving back to the community, he said.
The special deputies are volunteers with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office who help deputies at various events, such as football games and craft shows, and occasionally patrol with deputies.
There are specialty positions within the special deputies, too. Spieker is leader of the special deputy dive team. There are also mounted units and bicycle units.
Special deputies are paid for some events, but are not paid for most events. Spieker said he signs up and if he gets paid, that’s a bonus.
All sorts of people, from young people trying out law enforcement, to retirees who still want to help their community, to people with full-time jobs who want to give back to the community, are part of the special deputies, said Brandon Andrews, president of the group.
Two partial scholarships to go through peace officer training are available to those willing to put in at least a year as a special deputy, Andrews said.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office will also sponsor applicants who need help to get into certain Ohio peace officer training schools.
Andrews said he first got interested in law enforcement when he was in high school and was involved in the sheriff’s office Explorer program, which allows high schoolers to look into law enforcement as a career.
Andrews said his favorite assignments as a special deputy come when he can work with young people. He likes working football and basketball games, he said, and escorting the Special Olympics torch through town every year.
“You get to work with special needs and you can show them law enforcement and everyone is out to support them,” Andrews said. “The look on their face when you’re running beside them is awesome. Priceless.”
Those interested in joining the special deputies can contact the sheriff’s office at 419-422-2424.
Applicants must have a resume and be prepared to go through an extensive background check.