The new four-county task force will meet with community focus groups each month to determine problem areas.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The Trumbull County Drug Task Force will soon be dissolved and a new four-county task force will emerge.
Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere and Jeff Orr of the sheriff's department said the new task force will be called the Trumbull, Geauga, Ashtabula and Portage Law Enforcement Task Force.
Orr said officials are hoping to have the task force "up and running" by September.
"Drugs and crime don't just stay in one county," Altiere said. "We feel the best way to tackle crime is to have a multijurisdictional task force."
Altiere added that the four sheriffs of the counties will oversee the operations. He noted that the sheriffs will each assign personnel to the force. They are not sure how many officers will be on the task force.
"This task force will not only cover a larger area, but it will also cover more than just drugs," said Orr, who also heads the county's drug task force. "We will now deal with organized gangs, illegal sales and possession of firearms and homeland security."
Altiere and Orr also are not sure where the headquarters for the task force will be.
"We want to find a central location, but that's something we are still looking into," Orr said.
Local focus groups
Orr noted one of the main objectives of the task force will be to have county focus groups.
"In each county, we will locate religious officials, school personnel and other residents and ask them to take part in the focus group," Orr said.
"We will then meet with these people and ask them to address what they believe to be the problems and crime areas in their communities. We will then go out and try to address those problems."
Orr said the task force will then spend six months working on those problems and will report back to the focus groups.
"We will then show them what we found and what we did," Orr said. "We want them to know we are working to make their communities better."
Orr and Altiere also noted that the task force will develop an emergency response plan in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster.