Ada Police Chief Michael Harnisfeger presents Ada's Andrew Ward with a SAFER certificate for his pro-activity in "getting involved," as his family and friends look on at the Ada Village Council meeting Tuesday evening - Ada Herald
Ada Police Chief Michael Harnisfeger presents Ada's Andrew Ward with a SAFER certificate for his pro-activity in "getting involved," as his family and friends look on at the Ada Village Council meeting Tuesday evening. (Ada Herald/Joe Schriner)

ADA — June 22, 2019.

A man approached a residence at 540 E. Lincoln Avenue, Ada. He was asking for money. Andrew Ward, the homeowner, sensed something was suspicious.

After a brief interchange, and as the man was walking off, Mr. Ward noted the man’s vehicle license plate.

It was from Texas. Mr. Ward took the number.

Through some crack citizen investigative work, Mr. Ward discovered this man was, in fact, a fugitive wanted by the FBI. (He Googled the license plate number, which came up in an FBI Bulletin news release.)

In turn, Mr. Ward immediately contacted law enforcement.

Ada Police and the Hardin County Sheriffs tracked the man down. He was arrested, then he was extradited.

According to Ada Police Chief Michael Harnishfeger, this man was wanted for a suspected kidnapping.

If it wasn’t for Mr. Ward’s proactivity, this man may have still been on the loose. What’s more, the crime might have even repeated itself in Ada.

Mr. Ward was presented with a SAFER Award at the Ada Village Council Meeting Tuesday night.

SAFER, incidentally, is Ada’s own version of Community Oriented Policing. Developed in 2002, it promotes an interconnectedness between residents and the police, in order to keep the village as safe as possible.

How’s that working?

Chief Harnishfeger said that in the past six years, or so, Ada has been listed by the Ohio Governor’s Office as being in the top 20 safest municipalities in the state. (One year it was listed as low as 9th.)

What’s more, the program received the Ohio Crime Prevention Community Policing Strategy Award.

“What Mr. Ward did, demonstrated the essence of our program,” said the chief.

And that ‘essence’ revolves around the partnership developed, again, between the community and law enforcement.

Members of the formal “SAFER Committee” in Ada include: village officials, local school administrators, college representatives, business members, an ONU security chief, Ada police chief, and a private citizen.