Focus on Fostoria - Apr_27b_03

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Seneca County METRICH holds annual drug enforcement meeting

Fostoria Focus- April 9, 2003.
By Leonard Skoneki

"The biggest success story in law enforcement in Seneca County.

Success in the past and success in the future was the subject of the 2002 end-of-year meeting of the Seneca County Drug Task Force, METRICH Enforcement Unit, March 31 at Shellshucker's near Tiffin.

The Task Force is made up of the Seneca County Sheriff's Office, the Police Department, the Tiffin police Department and the Seneca County Prosecutor's Office.

Seneca County Sheriff Tom Steyer is the Task Force chairman.

The purpose of the Task Force is to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Seneca County be reducing the availability of illegal drugs and weapons through community partnerships and to promote safe, secure neighborhoods.

The name METRICH (Metro-Richland County) comes from the first task force in this area. Other counties in the METRICH region include Huron, Crawford, Ashland, Marion, Morrow, Hancock and Knox.

Seneca County joined METRICH in 1992.

Village police departments such as Attica, Bettsville and Green Springs also participate in the Task Force as do the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Adult Parole Authority, the Drug Enforcement Agency task force out of Toledo and other agencies.

"We feel the Task Force makes a difference. We have a 95 percent conviction rate," Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert said. "In the last 10 years, the Task Force is the biggest success story in Seneca County."

Egbert added that one-third of his office's case load arise from Task Force investigations and another one-third are drug-related, such as burglaries.

Detective Charles Boyer of the Tiffin Police Department is Task Force unit coordinator and gave the annual analytical report.

In 2002, the Task Force conducted 142 cases - 67 in Fostoria, 55 in Tiffin, and 20 in the rural areas of the county.

In 2002, the Fostoria Police Department was not able to handle as many cases due to the city's financial crunch which resulted in the temporary reassignment of detectives to road duty.

The detective assigned to work with the Task Force has been restored and the number of cases initiated by the Fostoria Police Department is expected to increase.

Task Force officers' primary tools are controlled buys (75 cases) and search warrants (34 cases).

In 2002, the Task Force seized 1,984 grams of marijuana, 111 marijuana plants, 243 grams of crack cocaine, 395 grams of cocaine as well as over $22,000 in cash.

Boyer said he is concerned about the increase in the use of cocaine and crack cocaine.

"With crack," he said, "comes a dramatic increase in crime and violence."

For 2003, Boyer said the Task Force intends to make greater use of search warrants, to increase intelligence sharing among participating agencies, and to cooperate more fully with other METRICH county units.

The Seneca County Drug Task Force has made substantial progress, but drugs remain a problem.

"We're going to make an impact on that," Boyer said.

(Citizens can report drug-related activity to the Task Force Drug Tip Hotline 1-877-446-DRUG. All information is confidential.



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