Trailblazing for inclusivity: DCSO added Rhinerson to court security team

December 16, 2023 | 12:10 am

Updated December 16, 2023 | 12:13 am

Jeff Rhinerson is a trailblazer. In a groundbreaking move towards inclusivity, the 45-year-old Rhinerson — a Puzzle Pieces client and Employment Opportunities job seeker with Down syndrome — is the newest addition to the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office court security team.

Sheriff Brad Youngman kicked off a swearing-in ceremony Friday afternoon by briefly speaking about his eagerness to add Rhinerson to the team. The two have known each other for several years.

Rhinerson was sworn in by Judge-Executive Charlie Castlen. Puzzle Pieces Executive Director Amanda Owen — wearing a gala dress at Rhinerson’s request — held the Bible during the ceremony.

(Watch the swearing-in ceremony here.)

Rhinerson will be a part of DCSO’s Judicial Security Unit at the Morton Holbrook Judicial Center in downtown Owensboro. As a court security assistant, he will help court security officers as they maintain the safety and security of the Judicial Center.

Visitors of the Judicial Center may see Rhinerson as they enter the building, asking them to place items in a tray before being scanned. Or they may see him in the courtroom announcing a judge’s entrance or patrolling the hallways with a CSO partner assisting the public.

Rhinerson will be a part of a team and will always work in tandem with a security officer. As an assistant, he won’t be authorized to serve warrants, make arrests, or carry a firearm.  

According to Sheriff Brad Youngman, much of a CSO’s duties are customer service based, such as guiding visitors to various offices and courtrooms and providing helpful information about the court system. 

“I am very excited to have Jeff join our court security team. Jeff has a passion for helping people and has always been interested in law enforcement,” Youngman said. “This is a great opportunity for both of us. Being able to partner with Puzzle Pieces in a manner that is unique to both of our agencies is very rewarding.”

Youngman noted that his wife serves on the board of GRADSA, another agency that promotes inclusivity.

“I have learned so much from her involvement that I want to be able to come alongside other agencies that do so much to promote awareness for people with disabilities and serve as an example to others who may be interested in these opportunities,” he said.

Kitty Jones, Director of Employment Opportunities, highlighted the significance of Rinerson’s new role.

“This is a big step toward inclusion in our community with him being at the forefront of our Judicial System by working for the DCSO,” said Jones. 

She praised Youngman for collaborating to find a job that aligns with Jeff’s strengths and true interests. Rhinerson’s employment specialist Caroline Clark similarly commended DCSO for its welcoming approach. 

“DCSO has been an incredible group to partner with and have welcomed Jeff to their team with open arms from the very start,” she said. “We are so excited for Jeff and cannot wait to see all that is in store for him with DCSO.”

Rhinerson, who previously worked as a Branch Support Associate with Old National Bank, expressed gratitude for the skills and confidence gained in his previous role. Although he loved his job at Old National Bank, he desired a position that allowed him to serve his community in a larger capacity.

Despite his new role, Rhinerson will continue hosting his social media talk show, “Live with Jeff,” where he interviews local leaders every Monday at noon on Facebook. He remains committed to showcasing his community’s potential and is eager to embark on this new chapter.

December 16, 2023 | 12:10 am

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