JEFFERSON, Ohio (WKBN) – Ashtabula County officially split from the Trumbull-Ashtabula Law Enforcement Group on Wednesday, working to start their own agency to battle crime and drugs in the area.
The new agency is called the Crime Enforcement Agency of Ashtabula County. It will operate with the joint cooperation of the police departments in Ashtabula, Geneva and Conneaut, along with the county sheriff department and the FBI.
During the announcement, a special guest in charge of the Cleveland office said this group could stop the “scourge” of violent crime in the county.
“Our partnerships with the public sector and the private sector also need strengthened, and in doing so it will help us combat the scourge of violent crime that has been so prevalent here in the county,” said FBI special agent Eric Smith.
That “scourge of violent crime” has taken the specific form of meth.
“There’s a real demand for a supply of crystal meth. We used to be one of the largest manufacturers of pot labs in the state,” said Ashtabula County prosecutor Nick Iarocci.
He said meth was coming from Mexico into Akron and being used in Ashtabula County. One of the first goals of CEAAS will be to get the meth problem under control.
At the news conference on Wednesday, Ashtabula County Commissioner Kathryn Whittington was given a lot of credit for starting the new unit.
Whittington said it will be funded with money from the separation agreement with Trumbull County. She said long-term funding will come from two grants she applied for and another that she will be applying for.
After speaking with people on both sides of the separation issue, it appears that the TAG agreement was not renewed because Trumbull wanted more from Ashtabula, and Ashtabula thought Trumbull was asking too much.
“He wanted to expand his unit in Trumbull County because they had issues that were expanding. We also wanted to do the same thing for our county,” said Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson.
About 20 people were outside of the Ashtabula County Courthouse for the announcement.