Heroin continues to dominate METRICH region

Mansfield police Chief Ken Coontz said at Thursday’s annual METRICH meeting that heroin removal is the decentralized task force’s No. 1 objective.

Based on three-year averages, METRICH set a goal of removing 586 grams from the streets this year. So far, task force officers have confiscated 1,336.72 grams.

“We’re (more than) doubling what we had expected to see,” Coontz said.

In individual counties, Richland has seen 560 grams of heroin removed, while Crawford has had 35.23.

Coontz told the law enforcement officials gathered at the Ontario Event Center that METRICH set five goals for the year. Another goal is to develop 347 pharmaceutical cases. Prescription drugs rank just behind heroin in terms of abuse.

METRICH has developed 129 such cases in 2014, in part because of the heroin epidemic.

“It has consumed most of our drug unit’s time,” Coontz said.

Richland County has seen eight cases. Crawford County has none so far.

Search warrants have been another big part of METRICH’s agenda. The task force set a goal of 291 search warrants but has almost doubled that number with 571.

“Search warrants often result in closing out a case and improving the quality of life in a neighborhood,” Coontz said.

METRICH has almost attained its goal of removing 196 weapons. The task force has confiscated 182 so far this year.

METRICH already has set its goals for 2015. They include removing 647 grams of heroin, developing 278 pharmaceutical cases and conducting 387 search warrants.

The guest speaker for Thursday’s luncheon was Karhlton Moore, executive director of the state Office of Criminal Justice Services. Moore said task forces such as METRICH are in danger, that there’s an “enormous fight” by some to eliminate them.

“Some people think task forces are created to get low-level drug users in prison and that there’s a racial tone behind it,” Moore said.Moore said METRICH benefits itself by showing results. The OCJS executive director said he supports METRICH and other groups like it.

“We need drug task forces more than ever,” Moore said.

The centerpiece of Moore’s speech dealt with leadership. He called it the key to collaboration.

“What goes into being a good leader? First of all is trust,” Moore said. “A leader who people cannot trust cannot lead.”

He said trust is especially important in law enforcement.

“If there’s a lack of trust in law enforcement, people can die,” Moore said.

Moore added the best leaders listen and communicate.

Originally published in the News Journal on October 16, 2014.

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