REGION Police chiefs form co-op
The chiefs meet every week for lunch and rotate the location among their jurisdictions.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CANFIELD -- Since criminals aren't boundary conscious, the South County Chiefs Coalition shares information -- daily, by e-mail.
Every Wednesday, the chiefs meet for "lunch and shop talk."
Wednesday, the coalition met at DiRusso's Restaurant on state Route 46. The location rotates each week among the chiefs' jurisdictions.
The coalition, formed in January, includes Lt. Brian Girts, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Canfield post, and police chiefs from Beaver, Boardman, Canfield, New Middletown, Poland Township, Poland village and Springfield. A representative from the Mahoning County Prosecutor's Office rounds out the group.
"We work in jurisdictions more or less adjacent to each other," said Jeffrey Patterson, Boardman's chief. "We face similar issues and get together to brainstorm."
Daily contact: Each day, the chiefs circulate among themselves, via e-mail, their department's significant activity reports, said Russell Beatty Jr., Poland village chief.
Beaver Chief Carl N. Frost said the reports, commonly called hot sheets, list certain crimes that might be of interest to detectives in other south county jurisdictions.
If, for example, Beatty has a rash of burglaries and the crimes sound similar to ones happening in Boardman, their departments' detectives can compare notes, said Jeffrey Patterson, Boardman chief.
Canfield Chief David Blystone said the concept worked when he shared information with Boardman about with a series of condo and apartment break-ins that happened in Canfield. Boardman had similar crimes and caught one suspect, he said.
"Sometimes it's just a heads-up," Blystone said of the information sharing.
Frost mentioned the three teen-agers from Canfield accused of attacking dairy cows in North Lima. He said Blystone was able to supply information about their background.
Every little bit helps in an investigation, Frost said.
Historically, Patterson said, police agencies have been reluctant to share information. "This way, we hope to foster cooperation from the top down," he said.
Patterson said crime in his jurisdiction, such as shoplifting, is committed by people from all over the area. He said although out-of-towners commit the crimes, out-of-towners also support Boardman's economy -- its stores.
Usual topics: Blystone said most of what is discussed at the chiefs' luncheon meetings concerns policy and procedures. Sometimes, like when Frost brought a cruiser recently outfitted with a laptop, they show off new equipment.
They've all shared their respective department's pursuit policy.
Blystone said that, while there may be variations, the policies are very restrictive. A chase has to be preceded by a serious crime, he said.
The risk inherent in the chase must be balanced with the need to capture the offender, Patterson said.
The south county chiefs also belong to the Mahoning Valley Chiefs of Police, which includes federal and state agencies and retired members.