Charmaine McGuffey aims to be first female out LGBTQ sheriff in Ohio
Charmaine McGuffey used to be a deputy sheriff of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. Now she’s aiming to be the first female out LGBTQ sheriff in Ohio.
A retired Major and former Commander of Jail and Court Services, McGuffey will be going up against the man who she says fired her from the sheriff’s office because she was a lesbian.
Charmaine McGuffey versus the incumbent
McGuffey is set to run against the incumbent Sheriff Jim Neil in the Democratic primary postponed to June 2 because of the COVID-19 crisis.
She has been endorsed by the Hamilton County Democratic Party, the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Hamilton County Young Democrats, and former US Rep. Gabby Giffords.
McGuffey told LGBTQ Nation that a victory “would mean that our country is moving forward that we really have moved away from the 1950s model of law enforcement, where not just women are embraced in the law enforcement world, but also LGBTQ members of the community can wear a uniform and be quite successful.”
While her rival, Neil, is reportedly a Democrat, he had apologized for attending a Trump rally in 2016. He also has a history of allegedly failing to discipline officers who’ve used inappropriate force.
She said Neil “has pretended to be a Democrat for many years now, when he’s actually much more aligned with the Tea Party Republicans. He tells people what they want to hear and then doesn’t follow through.”
McGuffey aims to implement sweeping change in criminal justice reform if she’s elected as sheriff. Under her, the Hamilton County Justice Center went from being the worst-ranked large jail in Ohio to the best in three years.
Charmaine McGuffey’s track record versus allegations
A 33-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, McGuffey became the highest-ranking woman in the office’s history when she was promoted to major in command of jail and court services in 2013.
In 2015, she was also named local and regional Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. In 2016, the Ohio House of Representatives named her Public Citizen of the Year.
But in 2016, Neil said he fired her after an investigation allegedly concluded that McGuffey promoted a hostile work environment for employees.
The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by a deputy that claimed McGuffey “screamed at employees, cursed at them, and engaged in favoritism.”
McGuffey has denied the allegations, filing a lawsuit that said she was fired for being a lesbian and for speaking out against the office’s toxic male culture. She was also being demoted to a civilian status with lower pay.
Speaking to LGBTQ Nation, she said: “The fact I was a woman was an issue with some of the men in the upper echelon. The fact I was gay was an issue [too].”
Charmaine McGuffey’s background
McGuffey was born and raised with her two sisters in Cincinnati by her single mother who worked long hours to support the family.
She graduated from Western Hills High School and joined the Criminal Justice program at the University of Cincinnati. She graduated and joined the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in 1983.
Among others, she worked as the lead hostage negotiator for the Sheriff’s Special Response Team, Academy Commander for the Ohio Peace Office Corrections Academy, and as a self-defense instructor.
During her stint working in the jail, McGuffey gained the trust of the prisoners. She said: “They know that I care about them. They know I’m not going to put up with any misbehavior on their part or on the part of the officers.”
A big believer of accountability, she said: “I’ve been gay my entire life and what I learned as early as 11 years old was this: If you don’t stand up to bullies, they run you and they cause you to fail and a whole lot of negative things happen to you.”
“You have to stand up to them, but when you do stand up to them, there are consequences. It’s not easy, so it’s what I’ve done my whole life, and I have tremendously great people surrounding me who helped me through those rough times,” she added.