Every once in awhile an idea comes along that makes everyone say, "Why didn't we do that a long time ago?"
The Homicide Task Force Mutual Aid Agreement drafted by county Prosecutor Robert Herron is one of those ideas.
The problem is, the formation of this task force is not a new idea. It was first proposed about 10 years ago by former Sheriff David Smith, but was abandoned amazingly due to lack of interest.
Now, with at least 14 unsolved homicides or suspicious deaths in the county dating back to 1995, the proposal has been put forth again, this time by the head of the county Families of Homicide Victims, Belinda Puchajda, and it appears to be heading toward reality.
Under the agreement police departments which sign on would agree to provide investigatory assistance when requested from other departments which have also signed the agreement. The plan doesn't appear to require a large commitment of manpower from the assisting departments beyond the initial 48 hours in the homicide investigation, which are the most crucial.
Several departments have already agreed to sign on - the county Sheriff's Department and the Columbiana, Leetonia and Salem Township police departments. East Liverpool, which has the highest murder rate in the county, has surprisingly expressed reluctance to join.
"No entity is an island, and I think we'll get help," Columbiana Police Chief Tim Gladis said in his pitch to city council to allow his department to join. We agree. The number of small police departments in this county have much to gain by joining together to investigate murders. We hope every police department in Columbiana County, including East Liverpool, will agree to join.