Lusk to seek 2nd term as county sheriff

Lycoming County Sheriff Mark Lusk is seeking the Republican nomination for a second term in the May primary election.

Lusk, a Porter Township resident, was elected to a first term in November 2009 to succeed Charles Brewer.

He cites the Lycoming County Most Wanted publication, in conjunction with the county district attorney’s office and the Sun-Gazette, as one of the successes of his first term.

“We had 200 pictures in those sections of fugitives wanted in the county,” Lusk said. “We’ve averaged about 100 catches, for all types of crimes … we’ve had a positive response from the public with those.”

Lusk said his office has reduced outstanding arrest warrants.

“When I first arrived in 2010, we had about 2,000 warrants,” he said. “We’re down to about 1,400 now, and that’s with the same number of warrants coming in.”

One of Lusk’s focuses in a second term will be the continued enhancement of security at county buildings. New barriers recently installed at the county courthouse entrance are part of that plan.

“Where I get in trouble, in a manner of speaking, is that, with any amount of increased security, there is increased inconvenience,” Lusk said. “The difference is that 20 years ago you might hear someone say something and laugh it off, and you can’t do that today.

“What people don’t realize is we’re a busy operation at this courthouse,” he said. “In 2012, we had approximately 250 calls for assistance in 260 business days. Every jury that renders a verdict is personally escorted to their vehicles.”

The increased number in requests to his office for licenses to carry firearms is a “totally new challenge,” Lusk said.

“We had approximately 2,300 requests in 2011, and about 3,950 in 2012. In January, we had 700 requests. We could be on pace for 7,000 requests this year.”

Transporting inmates is another responsibility that tasks the sheriff’s office resources.

“We put 180,000 miles on our vehicles in 2012, moving inmates,” Lusk said. “We’re not just sitting in the courthouse. We’re traveling a lot.”

Lusk says that in a second term he intends to keep his office visible at local events.

“A uniformed presence deters crime,” he said. “So we’re at the county fair, we’re at Jersey Shore Town Meeting … We have a very intensive manpower commitment to the Little League World Series.”

During Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, the sheriff’s office assisted in relief efforts, building a stockpile of supplies and equipment in hardhit Plunketts Creek Township.

“I did what I’ve done forever then,” Lusk said. “Look for resources and find resources.”

Other programs sheriff’s deputies participate in include the Officer Phil drug awareness program in 20 area schools and the weeklong Camp Cadet program for area youth where they “learn discipline, they learn how to march and they are educated in law enforcement,” Lusk said.

His priority is keeping the people of Lycoming County safe, he said. Part of that is certifying all deputies as emergency medical technicians and equipping vehicles with tools such as automated external defibrillators, water rescue devices and road spikes to end high-speed chases.

Another major component of public safety is working with the U.S. Marshals’ fugitive task force to locate out-of-area criminals who have strayed into Lycoming County, Lusk said.

Before becoming sheriff, Lusk was chief of the Old Lycoming Township Police Department and a volunteer firefighter and served as the county’s chief deputy coroner.

“I’m the little boy who grew up and was everything a little boy wanted to be,” Lusk said. “I take very seriously the safety of our residents.”

Lusk graduated from Loyalsock Township High School, Allentown Police Academy and the Pennsylvania State University Police Executive Leadership School.

He is a member of the St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Church and a life member of the Old Lycoming Township Volunteer Fire Co.

Lusk is married to Denise Dieter and has three adult children and one stepdaughter.