Keith Porch

Mansfield Police Dept. Chief Keith Porch (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- Keith Porch will never complain about or turn down state and federal grant dollars.

But the Mansfield police chief offered context regarding a $166,481.26 state grant announced by Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday as part of $3.6 million in total statewide awards from the Ohio Drug Law Enforcement Fund.

The grant, distributed annually, is not designed just for the MPD. A grant for the entire 10-county METRICH Drug Task Force, it's actually about $83,000 less than the law enforcement collaborative used to receive.

"METRICH used to get around $250,000 each year through DLEF,"  Porch said Wednesday. "Last year, we got $118,000, which meant we had been cut almost in half. This year it's more, but it's still not what we used to receive."

The state's DLEF is funded by $3.50 from each traffic moving violation that law enforcement agencies issue each year. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ohio in early 2020, it resulted in viewer people on the road and fewer citations being issued by officers on patrol.

"That (2020) resulted in the big reduction last year. It must have improved in 2021," the chief said.

Funds from the grant go to pay for training of detectives, officer overtime to do drug investigations, equipment, consultants and other personnel, according to Porch.

"Not every department in METRICH has full-time drug detectives," he said. "This helps fund that work. These (DLEF) funds are what bring these other counties to the table in terms of the task force."

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The grant is one one of two that primarily fund the task force. The other is a federal grant, around $112,500, that is used for strictly confidential investigations.

The METRICH region is comprised of Richland, Ashland, Crawford, Knox, Hancock, Huron, Marion, Morrow, Seneca and Wyandot counties.

Grants announced by DeWine on Tuesday assist 41 law enforcement agencies to help drug task forces enforce the state’s drug laws and combat illegal drug activity.

Grants from the 2022 Ohio Drug Law Enforcement Fund support drug task forces that impact 67 counties on issues of drug trafficking, pharmaceutical diversion, and other organized criminal activity associated with the drug trade.

The program, which is administered through the Office of Criminal Justice Services, is also intended to help local entities enhance the safety of Ohioans through multi-jurisdictional task forces.

“Ohio’s drug task forces play an absolutely critical role in removing drugs from the streets and holding drug traffickers accountable,” DeWine said.

“These grants are flexible so drug task force commanders can tailor their plans to the greatest benefit for their local communities.”

Funds can be used by agencies to investigate drug trafficking organizations and disrupt the drug supply through intelligence gathering, information sharing, and multi-agency coordination.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"