May 9, 2022

HAMILTON, Ohio - Lt. David Reynolds stayed true to his watch at the Butler County Jail and paid the ultimate price when he died from COVID-19.  His family and the close-knit community of corrections officers and deputies honored his legacy May 6 with the Lt. David Reynolds Memorial Blood Drive.

Reynolds' widow Becky Reynolds and sons Nathan and Jacob were among the 30 donors who visited the Community Blood Center Bloodmobile at the Butler County Sheriff's Office. The blood drive topped 144% of collection goal with 26 donations and 15 first time donors.

Lt. Reynolds died Sept. 30, 2021 after contracting COVID-19 at the jail. "David had seven pints of blood when he was in the hospital," said Becky. "We are so honored and humbled. David would be so proud and embarrassed probably because of the all the attention!"

Reynolds joined the department in 2001 and rose through the ranks. He was a former member of the Hanover Twp. Fire Department and an ordained minister.

Corrections Specialist Melinda Weddle coordinated the blood drive to coincide with May 1-7 National Corrections Officers Week and said it will now be part of the Sheriff's Department's annual observance. "David would have done it for somebody else," she said.

According to the non-profit group One Voice, 2021 was the deadliest on record for correctional officers with 219 deaths from COVID.

"Throughout the pandemic, they have continued to serve through repeated COVID outbreaks, long hours away from home and chronic short staffing that makes their jobs even more dangerous," said Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, in announcing Corrections Officers Week. "But they do it to keep our communities and our families safe."

Becky Reynolds held a tumbler made by Police Wives of Ohio bearing the name of her husband and Butler Co. Deputy Craig Mills, who also died from COVID in September 2021.

"Like nothing I've ever seen," said Corrections Capt. Nick Fischer who donated Friday. "We didn't miss a day. A lot of places shut down. We had to be here. I'm very proud of my people. COVID didn't stop us.

"It showed that our staff is brave. Seems like all my staff had it one time or other."

Corrections Officer Aaron Green had COVID three times. "The first time was right at the beginning, the second time was during the Delta variant," he said. "Because I had COVID I couldn't go to David's funeral."

"It was huge," Capt. Fisher said of the loss. "David was loved by everybody. He was a boots-on-the ground type of guy who worked his way up. He was not only a manager and a leader; he was a friend and a spiritual leader to a lot of staff members and performed several of their weddings. This keeps his memory alive."

Deputy Mike Gutowski and Sgt. Mike Matala were the first to donate because the rest of the day would be spent with the security detail for President Joe Biden's visit to Hamilton Friday.

"To me it's a simple, easy thing to do that can save someone's life," said Gutowski. "Plus, it supports the blood drive in his memory and helps out people. If we can keep doing this every year - great!"

Jacob Reynolds first donated at Ross High School and donated Friday in his father's memory. "It's certainly a nice thing," he said. "He needed a lot of blood in the hospital."

"It's my first one," said Jacob's older brother Nathan Reynolds. "It opens up the opportunity for me to do it a lot more times."

Family members wore Bengals Super Bowl "Living the Dream" t-shirts because it was one of David's favorite sayings.

"Not a single person you run into that would say anything negative about him," said Becky. "Many of the inmates posted positive things. He would say a murderer looks just like us. He never looked down on anybody and never treated them any different."