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Sheriff Gerald McFaul
Cleveland's Own Marshall Dillon

Gerald T. McFaul was born May 20, 1934. He has two brothers (Ed and Tom) and two sisters (Kathleen and Mary Ann).

That was a time when people defined their neighborhood by the Church they attended. McFaul was raised in The Mac - Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 40th and Superior.

Young Gerald McFaul and his mother

Young Gerald McFaul and his mother

It was here that he spent his first eight years of school and then it was on to Holy Name where he graduated in 1952.

Only two weeks out of high school he became an apprentice pipe fitter and in 1957 he became a journeyman fitter.

At the same time he ran for Cleveland City Council - and lost. Two years later he tried again - and lost. The third time was a charm for McFaul and this time he won - by only 186 votes!

He remembers asking his parish priest for advice as to whether or not he should run and is still grateful for the council of his pastor.

He spent nine years on Cleveland City Council representing downtown Cleveland. His ward extended from Lake Erie to Carnegie and 55th Street to the River. Half of this time he was the Democratic Majority Leader.

With no law degree McFaul knew he couldn't run for judge - yet he was very interested in the Justice system.

Charles V. Carr saw him at City Hall one Day and asked him simply "How tall are you?" McFaul answered "6'3." Carr said "If I were 6'3 and white, I'd run for Sheriff." He told him the incumbent sheriff had a reputation for allegedly shaking down blacks and needed to be out of office.

He talked to his friends and family and finally decided to run.

Sheriff Gerald McFaul at his desk

Sheriff Gerald McFaul at his desk

In 1967 he ran for Sheriff and beat Ralph Krueger by 122,000 votes. He came into office at the same time Carl Stokes became Mayor.

He is now finishing up 28 years of service as the sheriff and is running for his eighth, four-year term. "I'm either dedicated or crazy. I'm not sure which. Actually, I love the job and the sense of pride I get when I see the system working."

Sheriff Gerald McFaul's Office

Sheriff Gerald McFaul's Office

When he was elected he inherited the old workhouse, and the old jail on 21st and Payne. The Justice Center was brand new in July 1977.

He remembers the day they transferred the prisoners to the Justice center. It was July 4th weekend at about 2:00 a.m. "We put out the word that the transfer would be made the end of July. We had some pretty bad people in the jail at the time, and security was very important. We got the transfer made without incident."

When he took office there were approximately 395 inmates, 300 employees and a 3- million dollar budget. Now there are over 2500 inmates, eleven hundred employees and a 71 million dollar budget.

"In 1967 marijuana and heroin were the big factors in crime. Now it's crack and cocaine, and heroin is coming back. 80% of our arrests are drug related in one way or another. We live in a very different society today and I attribute a lot of the problems to drugs."

Gerald McFaul Cleveland Peace Officers Plaque

Gerald McFaul Cleveland Peace Officers Plaque

Another interesting change in prisoner statistics is the ratio of men to women. When McFaul took office there were forty females in prison - and they were there mainly for prostitution. Now there are about 300. They share the cause of their arrest with the male population - drugs.

McFaul has instituted many rehabilitation programs including drug and alcohol programs. "We try to rehab the inmates while they're here so we don't get them as repeats, but it doesn't usually work out that way."

McFaul's life revolves around his work; it is hard to separate one from the other. He does, however, take some time for his family and friends, but both groups will tell you it's not nearly enough.

He was appointed as President of the Men's Auxiliary of VFW Post 3345 in Strongsville. It is a group, he says, that donates a lot of time and financial support to good causes like cancer research and children of veterans.

He also belongs to a number of other groups including both the East and West Side Irish American Clubs. The Elks, The Moose, The American Legion, The Eagles and the Knights of Columbus. He likes to support the groups that do good works throughout the community.

Sheriff Gerald McFaul honored by Irish group

Sheriff Gerald McFaul honored by Cleveland Irish group

Holy Name High School Alumni Association gave him their highest honor - the "Doc" Scullen Award.

The United Irish Societies gave him a tremendous honor when they named him The Grand Marshall of the 1989 St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Sheriff Gerald McFaul honored by Irish group

Sheriff Gerald T McFaul honored by another Irish group

He was given awards for his "Lifetime of Pursuit of Justice" and his assistance in "Child Support Round-Up" as well as Community Achievement Awards and a number of awards for good citizenship and appreciation.

McFaul was married in 1956 to Betty Slosarik. Together they had 4 children. They remained married for twenty-six years before they were divorced. The mere mention of their children (Sharon, Kevin, Colleen and Jerry Jr.) lights up McFaul's eyes. He also has 2 grandchildren from these children.

Sheriff Gerald McFaul with family members

Gerald McFaul with family members

Years later, after dating Connie Coletto for about 8 years he and Connie were married on Valentine's Day. They just celebrated their 6th anniversary. Connie had two sons of her own (Mike and Mark Trivisonno [no relation to the radio personality]) and four grandchildren.

Together they all make a wonderful, loving family.

Sheriff Gerald McFaul's baseball collection

Sheriff Gerald McFaul's baseball collection

McFaul has a few hobbies but doesn't get involved with things that will take him away from his job for long.

He likes to golf "but just now and then for fun". He collects coins and baseball memorabilia and his office is a testament to the latter.

He loves to read, but usually only finds time for that while vacationing in Florida. "I'm really not much of a traveler - I'd much rather be at home." But he has been on the Mississippi Queen twice and taken a few weekend bus trips.

He reads the Cleveland Citizen, a local labor organization paper, because he likes to keep up on what's going on with the labor unions. He still keeps contact with his friends from the union, mainly plumbers and pipe fitters "Those are friends you don't forget!"

He'd rather watch sports than participate and loves both the History Channel and The Discovery Channel but "I get bored to easily to watch movies"

Some trophies from Sherrif Gerald McFaul's office

Some trophies from Sherrif Gerald McFaul's office

"I still visit the old neighborhood sometimes. That neighborhood started me off and supported me strongly. Some times I'll stop in the Old Dutch Tavern just to see some old friends - it will always feel like home"

McFaul says he believes in being fair and describes himself as a "no-nonsense kinda guy". But he's not always happy with the outcome of the hard work done by his people.

"I will always get upset when I see cases where we strongly believe a person should be convicted and sent away and they get out on a technicality or a slap on the wrist. But I believe in the system and there must be a reason why this happens. We work longer and harder the next time to make sure it doesn't happen again."

All you have to do is walk into the Justice Center to see how greatly 9-11 affected McFaul and his people. "The attitude about security changed greatly. A whole new division was created to establish security at the front door. Judges and Commissioners were scared to come to work after 9-11 - but they know they are safe now."

Before 9-11 a portable metal detector would be set up as needed in front of a specific courtroom. Now you must go through the detector upon entering the building.

Sheriff Gerald McFaul in his office

Sheriff Gerald McFaul

"Everything has changed since I've been here, not just the security. You have to change to keep up. Even the people have changed. Now they all say 'you knew my Dad'. It's been a challenge and I good ride. I enjoy working with people and helping people."

Gerald McFaul is one of the good guys - he's what you think of when you think of the old time Western Sheriff riding into town on his white horse.

He's the one that makes you feel safe and the one who really cares about the people who work for him and the people he works for.

He works in a world of drugs and crime and still makes you feel good. You can't ask for much more than that - even from a man on a white horse donning a white hat.

Profiled by Debbie Hanson - 2005

Update: Former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul plead guilty and was sentenced to a year of house arrest on July 26, 2010 for two felony theft in office offenses and a misdemeanor ethics violation.

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