METRICH Enforcement Unit began in 1986 in Richland County and has been working as a unit between 10 counties in central Ohio with “a goal of reducing the availability of illegal drugs.”
Since 1991, some local police departments have been a part of that close knit network and has been utilizing, supporting and benefiting from it ever since.
“If we deal with drugs in any way that involves METRICH. We share information with them, vice versa,” Chief Roger Monroe of the Mount Vernon Police Department told the News.
In addition to MVPD, Danville and Fredericktown police departments are all part of METRICH in Knox County.
James DeChant, detective for MVPD and Access Officer for Knox County for METRICH, said that although there are other task forces affiliated with Knox County — such as CODE at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office — they all work together for the good of the community.
“By being part of a task force we have resources available to us that we would not have as just a regular department. We have equipment, surveillance equipment, manpower, networking information, so that’s why we’re part of the task force,” Monroe said.
Networking, Monroe said, is a valuable tool to determine if a suspected drug dealer has been on the radar of other departments.
“If we have someone who’s dealing drugs in Mount Vernon, we can network with the other counties and see if they also have this guy working out of their area, or if they have more information than we have,” Monroe said.
Funding for the program is received through grants by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services which is used in each of the 10 counties that are a part of METRICH.
“You have to set up three targets for the year — how many drug cases you’re going to do, how many grams of heroin you’re going to take off the street and how many pharmaceutical cases you’re going to have. That grant requires you to do three of those. METRICH goes above and beyond and we play out five. Those are broken up; we don’t break those up into each county — those are up to and what we want to make for our own goal ... that’s a task force goal. We have been doing pretty good at obtaining or exceeding those five goals in the last several years,” DeChant said.
Monroe said that in 2013, Knox County was the third highest county in the task force to use the Mansfield crime lab in Richland County for testing, which has a “fast turnaround time.”
Chief Monroe said that METRICH has been an asset to Knox County and the Mount Vernon Police Department for the past 23 years.
“Unfortunately our drug problem in the whole nation is so bad that if it weren’t for these task forces, we’d be really behind. But with these task forces, they really help us to battle these crimes and give us resources to try to put a dent in these problems the best we can,” Chief Monroe said.
Chief Ken Coontz is the project director of METRICH in Richland County, and is also the Chief of Police in Mansfield. Other counties in METRICH include Crawford, Huron, Morrow, Seneca, Marion, Ashland, Hancock and Wyandott.
For more information on METRICH Enforcement Unit, visit www.METRICH.com; or to report illegal drug activity, call 1-800-589-3273. Residents can always report drug activity to the Mount Vernon Police Department at 740397-2222 or the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 740-3973333.