The war on drugs is still being waged with a vengeance in Columbiana County and it appears that the continuing vigilance is producing some results.
County Prosecutor Robert Herron attended this week's meeting of county commissioners to plead his case for continued funding of the Drug Task Force. Herron came armed with stats to show that the county's financial commitment to the DTF is paying off.
The DTF is staffed with officers assigned from other police departments, with participating communities continuing to pay their salaries and benefits.
During the first six months of last year there were only three departments with officers assigned to the DTF - the county sheriff's office, Salem and Lisbon. After commissioners began helping to pay the costs, Wellsville, East Palestine, Leetonia and Columbiana assigned officers to the DTF.
Herron said the difference made by the additional officers is apparent. After posting 65 drug-related indictments in 2012, the total last year was 121. Of the 121 drug-related indictments, 68 were the direct result of DTF investigations, compared to 31 in 2012.
He also encouraged communities such East Liverpool, Salineville and Perry Township, which have what he called significant drug problems, to consider joining the DTF.
Commissioners followed Herron's recommendation and voted to continue to subsidize DTF participation in 2014. Police departments which assign an officer full-time to the DTF will receive $20,000, with those assigning an officer part-time getting $10,000.
Back in September we reported that drug overdoses had surpassed traffic accidents as the leading killer of young people in Ohio and in Columbiana County and that number continues to grow.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says heroin abuse is an epidemic killing at least 11 Ohioans a week. DeWine's office has said there were more than 600 heroin overdose deaths in the state in 2012, a figure that more than doubled since 2010. DeWine said every town in Ohio has a heroin problem, whether they recognize it or not.
Deadly overdoses are not the only problem caused by drug abuse. The quest for money to buy drugs is the motivation for the majority of our theft and burglary cases, and it's also at the root of many violent crimes.
The war on drugs may never be won, but at least we're seeing some positive progress in the battle.
We laud commissioners for continuing their commitment to the Drug Task Force and urge DTF officers to keep up the good fight.