Sheriff’s office, Clark County police team up for drug task force

A new law enforcement task force comprised of several small communities in Clark County aims to crack down on drug trafficking and abuse.

Clark County commissioners recently approved a mutual agreement to allow jurisdiction lines to be crossed to form the Clark County Vice and Organized Crime Task Force.

The idea was planted years ago, said Enon Police Chief Lew Wilcox, when smaller towns and villages like Enon voiced they would like to partner with each other to look into drug trafficking and abuse.

“When you bring a task force together, you bring together different players, different departments and often times come up with better ideas,” Wilcox said.

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The new directive will include officers from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, South Charleston, Enon, Miami County Sheriff’s Office and the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.

“In an effort to better combat drug trafficking, we decided to bring our resources together,” Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said.

The combined effort will also mean strength in numbers, Kelly said, to conduct investigations and do search warrants.

These types of teams are already in play in Montgomery County, Wilcox said, and should be a benefit to Clark County.

Drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana pass through big cities, like Dayton, to small towns in Clark County every day, law enforcement leaders said.

“We seem to be right at the hub of it, so we want to work together with other agencies to put a stop to it,” Wilcox said.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has a team of 10 deputies in the investigations unit. They’ll allocate two detectives and a sergeant to head the task force, Kelly said.

The towns and villages will then offer assistance when they can, Wilcox said.

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The task force won’t cost communities or taxpayers any extra money, Kelly said, because each office is using deputies already on staff, without extra hours.

“And so we’re trying to pool our resources to address these drug trafficking complaints,” the sheriff said.

Since 2008, the number of overdose deaths in Ohio has risen by more than 600 percent, according to statewide data.

In 2015, a record 72 people died of unintentional drug overdoses in Clark County. So far in 2016, the county has seen 39 confirmed unintentional overdose deaths, according to Clark County Coroner Dr. Richard Marsh. But that number will likely go up since the coroner’s office is awaiting results of several toxicology reports on additional deaths, he said.

Enon is an example of a community in the middle of drug arteries Interstates 70 and 675, Wilcox said.

New Carlisle along the 235 corridor also sees a lot of drug trafficking complaints from residents, Kelly said.

People who live in the communities said they are on board with any new ideas to stop drug abuse, trafficking and deaths.

“Anything you can do to quit or hinder or reduce the drug problem that we have, not just in this community, but in all the other communities, is the way to go,” Dan Zambon of Enon said.