Ohio gov. seeks $26M for narcotics intelligence to help law enforcement
"We can't make the problem totally go away, but we want to help local law enforcement in every way that we can"
By Kristen Spicker
Springfield News-Sun, Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine is seeking $26 million as part of Ohio's operating budget for narcotics intelligence that will support local law enforcement departments.
The governor spoke about the funding during the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center's Law Enforcement Drug Summit on Thursday. He said the $26 million would go toward adding more staff to the ONIC as well as purchasing new equipment and software.
"Our ONIC intelligence analysts and forensic computer specialists will be able to continue to supply help and support using state of art digital forensics and analytical tools," DeWine said. "ONIC is helping local law enforcement trace local drug dealers back to the ringleaders and suppliers and to build cases that result in convictions."
ONIC is able to extract information out of electronics and then organize data into usable forms, the governor said.
Collaborations with the center identify new drugs in the state faster and allow lawmakers to act quicker to make it illegal to traffic those drugs, DeWine added. It also helps warn law enforcement agencies and the public about those drugs.
DeWine created the ONIC in 2019 to help local officers use cell phones and electronics to investigate drug trafficking. The ONIC has assisted in more than 3,200 investigations and examined evidence on more than 7,500 cell phones, the governor said.
One of the investigations involved multiple Ohio agencies and multiple states. The case spanned from northern Ohio down to Mexico and included Youngstown, Toledo, Springfield and Columbus.
Investigators seized 76 kilos of fentanyl, 115,000 counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, nine kilos each of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, as well as multiple firearms, DeWine said. Eleven people were indicted and the case was connected a criminal organization in West Virginia, California, Georgia and North Carolina.
While the Ohio General Assembly is still working on the state's budget, DeWine said Thursday the $26 million for the ONIC remains part of the current proposed budget.
"We think that money will be able to stay in this budget," he said.
In addition to ONIC, DeWine said the state wants to continue to provide support to local law enforcement agencies. The state is making other agencies available to help in jurisdictions seeing an increase in crime.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol can be used as a backup to work with local authorities and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction parole officers can check on parolees in the community, the governor said. State liquor agents are also used to support local law enforcement agencies.
"When we see violent crime continuing to expand in our cities we have the ability to come in and be of some help," DeWine said. "We can't make the problem totally go away, but we want to help local law enforcement in every way that we can."
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