Zerfoss assumes the role of county sheriff

Staff writer
Clarion County is starting a new year with a new sheriff for the first time in 12 years.

Former Clarion Borough police officer Shawn Zerfoss was sworn in as sheriff Jan. 4 by Clarion County Judge Sara Seidle-Patton.

Zerfoss is replacing Rex Munsee, who chose not to seek re-election last year and retired after three terms in office.

“This will be quite a change from being a police officer,” said the 30-year veteran of the Clarion Borough Police Department. “Instead of the criminal end of things I will be dealing with the civil end of things, serving papers and tax papers. I won’t be answering calls anymore. Now I will be involved with courthouse security and prisoner transport.”

Zerfoss also said that “personnel is a problem but we just hired a new full-time deputy. We still need part-time deputies.”

Zerfoss plans to continue Munsee’s community outreach efforts.

“I have always been a people person,” he said. “I want to continue that.”

Zerfoss said a local businesswoman is buying bicycles for the department. “I could see us using them for parades,” he said.

The new sheriff also said he wants to maintain the same lines of communication.

“I want to work with everyone in the county. I also want to communicate with the public,” Zerfoss said. “Rex, prior to the pandemic, gave several public classes for kids, seniors and about scams. I hope to get back into that.”

Zerfoss is inheriting a veteran core of deputies.

“The deputies are the most important people here,” he said. “I want to stand behind them.”

Zerfoss said running for sheriff was a matter of perfect timing.

“I knew I was going to be hanging it up and I knew Rex would be leaving and it was a matter of doing what I know,” he said.

Zerfoss is a Clarion native and a graduate of Clarion University, received a master’s degree in criminal justice from Slippery Rock University. He still teaches at Slippery Rock.

“There have been a lot of shifts since I began my career in law enforcement,” Zerfoss said. “Technology has left me behind. When I started we were still writing tickets by hand. There has been a shift in some places in the respect for law enforcement. Locally the support is strong. When we had the Black Lives Matter march in Clarion it was pleasant. People would shake your hand. It was fantastic.”

The next step for Zerfoss is education.

“They have a class for new sheriffs and I will be attending that,” he said. “I look forward to serving the people of Clarion County.”