Recently, I stumbled upon an old photo of me when I was one-year of age.  Halloween was the occasion.  Along with a big smile, I wore the garb of a wild-west sheriff.  I pondered on the thoughts that immediately came to mind.  Was this photo foreshadowing a life-long career path?  Did something or someone already have in store for me a career in law enforcement?


Thinking back over my childhood I recalled the admiration I felt for the lawmen depicted in western reruns and fell in love with such shows as "Adam 12" and "CHiPS".  Because such shows are popular in our culture, they are numerous and continually reinvented.  Some of you may likely be able to produce similar photos or remember idolizing such shows as well. 

It is from this perspective that I would ask you to recall your earliest thoughts and hopes.  In our innocence, we believed in simple truths.  Right was right, wrong was wrong, and good overcame evil.  I dreamed of being on the good side, and in childhood play I experienced for the first time what it felt like in my heart. 

For me, this feeling led to a successful 20-year law enforcement career focused on the simple acts of doing what was right and caring for the people I served.

However, I'm dismayed over the current leadership of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office…an agency I have loved for so long.  News article after news article, I have read in dismay of major budget overruns, threats of “secret files” on members of the public, outlandish conspiracy-theory claims, personnel issues, and the concealment of criminal activity. 


I grieve for the dedicated deputies and corrections officers who struggle to maintain their professionalism under such conditions.  I hurt for the victims that read these stories and fear their victimization won't be handled in a professional manner.

When the public elects someone to the position of Sheriff, we are entrusting that person with our lives. We deserve someone who will cherish that role and not waver, tire, or falter from their commitment to our safety.    Sadly, the current Sheriff was recently quoted as saying, “If I was a quitter, I’d leave today…I’ve had enough”.

This should not be the sentiment of someone honored with carrying out the duties of such an office. Someone we entrusted with our safety - with our lives. 


While others waver, I don't.

Starting in 1995 as a patrol officer for the City of Cortland, I transferred to the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office in 2001.  Once there, I worked myself up through the ranks from Deputy Sheriff, Investigator, Senior Investigator (Lt.), Captain, and Undersheriff before retiring in 2015. 


Since then, I have worked with federal prison inmates in a community reintegration program in preparation for their release, and most recently with a large financial institution in the areas of security, disaster management, and business continuity planning. 


Not only do I have the experience to lead the Sheriff’s Office, but also the vision to improve community relations, restore fiscal responsibility, and champion alternatives to incarceration efforts.


It is for these reasons that I am asking for your support.


In these divisive times, you can count on me to serve all people of Tompkins County with honor, pride, and integrity. Whether it be during a time of victimization, or in the treatment of a loved one housed in the Tompkins County Jail. 


I am humbly asking for your consideration…


Derek R. Osborne

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Derek Osborne

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Tompkins County Sheriff - Ithaca, NY