Although Lycoming County native Mark Lusk wanted to be a police officer and firefighter since he was a boy, working in law enforcement isn't just something that's neat to do - "This is in my blood," he said.
Lusk, 55, has served one four-year term as Lycoming County sheriff and is running again for election on Nov. 5.
His guiding passion is protection.
"I have a burning desire to protect the public. I was a detective for 20 years, and when someone is a victim, in one sense, I take it personally. I feel for victims. I've dealt with many as a detective, and I absolutely deplore those who go out and prey on the elderly, our children, so they can make a dollar from them, and think it's OK and get away with it, when they've left scars for life on these folks," Lusk said.
His many years of experience coupled with the numerous contacts he's made on the local, state and federal levels qualifies him for sheriff, he said.
"All those hats I've worn, and numerous volunteer and professional careers, prepared me to be able to meet the challenge of serving as sheriff of Lycoming County for the people," he said.
His career began in 1975 at Old Lycoming Police Department as a police cadet, and became a patrolman in 1977 there. In 1987, he was promoted to detective/corporal, and became sergeant in 2002. Also in 2002, he was promoted to chief of the department. He became senior operations command officer during the 1996 flood for the Lycoming Creek corridor. He was a part-time deputy coroner for the county from 1997 to 2007; a part-time chief deputy coroner from 2000 to 2007; and a full-time chief deputy coroner from 2007 to 2009.
In 2007, he retired from Old Lycoming Police Department after 30 years, 17 of which as a criminal investigator and five of which as chief of police.
In 2010, he became Lycoming County's third elected sheriff in 44 years, and headed up the sheriff office deployment to respond to the flood of 2011.
He's also won numerous awards and served on several committees. He authored a grant that created a full-time shared police service coverage with Lycoming and Hepburn townships, and a grant that funded a school resource officer for the Williamsport Area School District.
He listed several success stories during his time as sheriff.
A major objective of his office is to track down and apprehend fugitives, and has partnered with the U.S. Marshall service to do so.
Because of that objective, over the course of four years, he initiated and oversaw the development of a countywide fugitive list on the county's website lyco.org, which is updated daily.
There were 2,000 fugitives when he came into office, and now there are about 1,300. "We're not done yet," he said.
He's faced an "exceptional challenge" as the Lycoming County Prison has been chronically overcrowded, and he's been responsible for safe inmate movement, such as to court on a daily basis. He's responsible for moving about 3,000 prisoners a year from the county prison alone.
"Without the ability to do that (move prisoners safely), the court system bogs down," Lusk said.
He instituted an efficient system with the License to Carry program, so rather than applicants coming in twice, they come in once. He calls it a "stop and shop," where they're in and out in 10 to 15 minutes.
"We're a very busy office. Efficiency is important, making sure we're available to serve the public," he said.
His office serves 300 protection from abuse orders a year, and made 400 inmate trips in 2012 in and around the state.
Essentially, he said, "It's very important people don't have to walk around and be afraid."