By Frank Lewis
There may never have been a more trying time for law enforcement officers and their relationships within their immediate communities. Tuesday night, local law enforcement department heads met to discuss how to better serve their community with a collaborative effort.
The meeting took place at the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and, in part the discussion was about being proactive to reduce criminal activity rather than just being reactive to calls.
“All agencies have experienced an increase drug related arrests over the last ten years with little change in manpower,” Sergeant John Howard of the OSHP said. He said a discussion was held about the nationwide negative attention law enforcement has been getting.
“Clearly there have been some bad decisions made by a few officers that has seemed to put a dark cloud over all,” Howard said. “We discussed the need to have more positive encounters with the public through our schools and other events to have the opportunity for people to see us more as public servants in a positive environment rather than law enforcement officers responding to some negative situation.”
Howard said the delicate balance is that there are only so many hours in a day and responding to calls takes priority to everything else.
One of those present at the meeting was State Representative Terry Johnson.
“One of the most positive things I saw out of the meeting was through Terry Johnson,” Howard said. “I was really impressed with Terry – We already have good relationships but Terry is wanting to help foster even better relationships, asking us what we need to get things accomplished.”
Joining Howard and Johnson were Portsmouth Police Department Lieutenant Jason Hedrick, Captain John Murphy of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, Shawnee State University Chief of Security David Thoroughman and Sergeant Dave Stuart of the OSHP.
“At the end of the day my heart is in our community,” Howard said. “If we can do more to collectively work together to benefit our community it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.