Crawford County Sheriff Ron Shawber was among three retiring METRICH drug enforcement
task force members honored Wednesday during the agency’s annual meeting at the Holiday Inn.

Shawber served 32 years as sheriff, but worked for the department for 43 years. He will retire at
the end of the year.

“I started there as a road dog and I had no intentions of ending up where I did,” he said.

Upon receiving the honor, Shawber said he is a “country cow-town sheriff” and was dealing with
big city folks when METRICH formed.

“Sometimes our definitions were a little different until we got together. We always stepped back
and looked at it and Phil (former Mansfield police Chief Messer) and people over here (were)
willing to listen,” Shawber said. “Sometimes we made them come to Crawford County to listen.
We’d sit down and discuss it. We always came to a good understanding.”

Shawber said the 10-county METRICH task force developed into what it is now because of the
collaboration of all involved.

“Each county has their own representative which METRICH deals with and pulls us all together.
We aren’t only the largest task force, we’re the most successful,” he said.

Also honored were retiring Sgt. Tom Blunk of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and Knox
County Sheriff David Barber, who served for 20 years as sheriff.

During the luncheon meeting, the Rev. Dan Gates, a recovery specialist from Reformation
Unanimous in Shelby, spoke about the impact the task force and local law enforcement have had
in changing the lives of people addicted to drugs.

Three local people told their personal stories of their troubles with the law, including a 24-yearold
local woman who is a recovering heroin addict who found God and was able to get treatment
in part thanks to the assistance she received from Mansfield police Lt. Ken Coontz, head of
METRICH.

Mansfield police Chief Dino Sgambellone said METRICH officials wanted to show people
METRICH is not just about enforcement.

“We work with our community partners to get people help when we can,” Sgambellone said.
“This is our 26th year, and I still think the task force serves as the best model for collaboration.

“I’m proud to be part of the task force that has earned a great reputation throughout our 10
counties for the quality of service we provide to our citizens,” Sgambellone said.

Originally published in the News Journal on November 1, 2012.