By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers were making traffic stops, weighing suspected cocaine confiscated in an earlier arrest, and putting several K-9 units through their paces. Across the county, Scioto County Sheriff’s deputies were executing outstanding warrants, Portsmouth Police and New Boston Police were doing much the same in a joint exercise Thursday.
The Scioto County Shield Detail is a multi-agency exercise in which officers use combined information to saturate the area to curb crime.
“The troopers at our post collect a lot of drug intelligence throughout the year, people call, and from stops (troopers) make, as well as talking with other agencies. And we work on that with other agencies,” OSHP Portsmouth Post Commander Lt. Karla Taulbee said. “It’s where we can share our resources we have to try to put a dent in this drug problem we’ve got in Scioto County.”
The funding for the overtime for the operation for the police departments and the sheriff’s office comes through a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) grant for the drug enforcement part of the exercise. Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said people shouldn’t confuse the HIDTA grant for Thursday’s exercise with the latest HIDTA funds made available after Scioto County received HIDTA status last year.
“The Highway Patrol doesn’t get HIDTA funding,” Taulbee said. “We have different programs through federal funding. We also have OVI (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol) funding. At night, we have OVI tach squads, six troopers and a tach sergeant working on the OVI problem. And that fund comes to the state through the fines courts collect through OVI arrests.”
Sheriff’s Capt. John Murphy said overtime for the exercise is paid for through a High Visibility Enforcement Overtime grant.
Murphy said the activity for the two-day event results in a lot of arrests and subsequent incarcerations.
“Over 60 percent of our fatalities last year were drugs and alcohol-related,” Taulbee said. “We’ve had two already this year. So it’s not just alcohol-related, we get drugged drivers, too. So we need to curb that. Then there’s that drug traffic from Detroit to Huntington that comes right down our highways.”
Donini said he believes inter-agency cooperation is important for law enforcement.
“I think the reason it’s beneficial is that it is a joint effort in which these guys get to work together toward a common goal, rather than separately towards it,” Donini said. “It’s kind of a motivating exercise. Basically it’s about drug and alcohol drivers and it also blends into drug investigations and things of that sort.”
Donini said the experience of working together and sharing resources is invaluable to all departments.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.