June 29, 2016

Partly cloudy

Commissioners agree to assign full-time officer to drug task force

By Vincent D. Scebbi

MEDINA — Similar to the Medina Police Department, Wadsworth will have a detective work full time with the Medina County Drug Task Force starting July 1.

A resolution Medina County commissioners unanimously passed Monday will allow Wadsworth police to delegate an officer to work with the agency.

Task force director Gary Hubbard said $40,000 will go to Wadsworth in order to help supplement the officer’s salary.

Wadsworth Lt. Robert Wyrick said the relationship between the department and the task force helps establish a fluid line of communication and the department “will have one foot in each camp.”

“With assignments, any type of intelligence, arrests, information, our department will be able to act on information rather quickly,” Wyrick said.

Wadsworth follows the Medina Police Department, which last year delegated a detective to the task force and received $30,000 in compensation. This year, Medina will receive an additional $10,000, so both cities will be compensated equally, Commissioner Pat Geissman said.

Hubbard said other departments have assigned detectives for short periods, but Medina and Wadsworth are the first to have full-time delegates, something Hubbard hopes will grow.

Wadsworth used to work with the task force; however, it split from the agency and contracted with the MEDWAY Drug Enforcement Agency, a multi-jurisdictional drug task force that works in Brunswick, and Wayne and Holmes counties. Although it partnered with MEDWAY, Wyrick said Wadsworth still developed a long-term relationship with the task force.

When Randy Reinke became Wadsworth’s police chief in February 2010, his philosophy to get Medina County agencies to unite as well as Hubbard’s change in strategy gave Wadsworth the motivation to seek collaboration, Wyrick said.

Hubbard said he directed the task force to target more street-level drug dealers instead of focusing primarily on high-level delivery networks.

Hubbard said the collaboration will help the department become more efficient in handling drug-related cases.

“For Wadsworth, it opens communication and a bigger possibility for better drug enforcement in the city of Wadsworth,” he said.

Formed in 1987, the task force has been used to identify, investigate and arrest those involved in trafficking, cultivating and manufacturing drugs, and to disrupt networks and halt shipments.

Brian Nowak, director of the Medina County Drug Abuse Commission, said the partnership is “beneficial to cities involved and the county as a whole.”

“From a citizen’s point of view, it’s a good way for cities to address the drug abuse problem,” Nowak said.

The task force is funded by revenue from an anti-drug levy county voters renewed in 2010. The drug commission recommends how the money should be allocated.
Nowak said the task force meets monthly to share intelligence and operations.

Geissman said Wadsworth collaborating with the task force is a good move and hopes to see other police forces participate.

“My hope is that we will have a countywide drug task force,” she said.

Contact Vincent D. Scebbi at (330) 721-4050 or vincents@medina-gazette.com.

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