“Obviously, from the Highway Patrol’s perspective, we’re focused on strict traffic enforcement,” Sgt. Dick meadows of the OSHP said, as he sat around a table with representatives from all the agencies included. “Looking beyond the traffic stop, from criminal indicators, we pass that off to these guys here with the sheriff’s office and the police department, and they work it that way.”
Capt. David Hall of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office said the OSHP provides criminal intelligence for his agency during traffic stops, if those stops involved criminal charges.
“We receive a lot of good intel, a lot of good information that leads us to follow up on investigations on any type of criminal activity, whether it be drug trafficking or some other criminal-related activity. We take that information and follow that up,” Hall said. “We’ve done a lot since yesterday (Friday), such as search warrants, such as drug-related arrests.”
Hall said the exercise caused residents to see a lot of law enforcement activity in their neighborhoods over the two day period.
“I think the biggest thing we get out of it (MAPS) is that interagency cooperation, the ability to work together, so when that significant event occurs, that rapport is there,” Capt. David Ware of the Portsmouth Police Department said. “How we operate within our own systems, and how we can operate as a whole system. The communication, the networking, resource allocation, it’s a tremendous tool for us.”
Ware said the exercise has a side benefit of improving traffic safety.
“We don’t have the same level of crashes that you have on a normal weekend,” Ware said. “We have several proms this weekend, so you have young drivers out there at night that maybe are not accustomed to being out late at night. We’re keeping the roads safe for them. We’re getting the impaired drunk driver off the road so our kids can have a safe prom.”
Hall said it was for that reason that several of the agencies targeted the areas of four schools where proms were taking place.
Hall said the portion dealing with targeting those areas was paid for through a Highway Safety Grant through the State of Ohio, and a HIDA (High Intensity Drug-trafficking Area) Federal Grant was utilized to enforce the drug-related crimes on the roadways.
“It is a great program for us to get the officers involved with overtime opportunities,” Hall said.
“Our funding is set up through the Forfeiture Asset Fund,” Meadows said. “So that the money that we have confiscated off of drug dealers previously, it comes out of that fund.”
Hall said on Friday his agency had to serve warrants on some serious charges, so they brought out the state’s Special Response Team — made up of 33 units from around Ohio — to help.
“We located a high-risk guy in Rarden by the name of Steven Taylor who we had burglary warrants of felonies of the second degree for, which is a greater risk for that community out there,” Hall said. “We were able to slow down some criminal activity with him being inside the facility here in the (Scioto County) Corrections Center.”
Staff Lt. Steve Rosta, tactical commander of the Ohio State Patrol Special Response Team, talked about his group’s involvement in the high-risk situations.
“We’re a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team, and we do high-risk warrant service, hostage rescue, barricade, controlled drug deliveries, things like that,” Rosta said. “When we do these details with other departments, such as we are with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Department, our role is to assist them in any high-risk search warrants or arrest warrants that they have.”
Rosta echoed Ware’s assessment that one of the benefits of a detail, such as the one staged this past weekend, is learning to work together with mutual aid.
“We wear different uniforms. We have city officers, we have the sheriff’s department and the Ohio State Patrol. I think one thing that we learn is, number one, we all have interest in making the area or the environment safe for the citizens of Ohio,” Rosta said. “This gives us time together to see how each team works, and it also brings about esprit de corps. We’re all out here for the same reason, and we have always worked well with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Department and the Portsmouth Police Department. We have probably trained and worked with them now for 10 or 15 years. So we do have a good working relationship, and a detail like this just fosters that that much more.”
Meadows said the joint efforts resulted in 250 traffic stops on Friday with 18 impaired drivers taken off of the highway
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232 or email@example.com