CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — During the past year, the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office has consistently sent news releases to media outlets about the latest arrests involving trafficking and possession.

“I think it’s important when you’re people are doing a good job that you need to get out there and give them a pat on the back,” said Sheriff Robert Radcliff. “The way we give them a pat on the back is to put those press releases out there to show:

  1. The deputies are out there working
  2. That we’re making a difference”

One of the targeted areas is U.S. Route 23. This road stretches from the top of Michigan through Ohio and all the way to Northern Florida. The freeway runs through 12 counties in Ohio and touches a population of more than 2.6 million. Half of those people live in Franklin County.

The U.S. 23 Pipeline Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) is composed of five county sheriffs and corresponding prosecuting offices, and three cities, and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI), Ohio Medical and Pharmacy Boards, State Fire Marshal, Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“[The drugs] are not necessarily bound for Circleville or Pickaway County, but they are bound for someplace,” said Sheriff Radcliff while nodding his head with his eyes opening wider for emphasis.

The county uses a number of deterrents and partnerships to help slow the movement of drugs.

  • Regular traffic patrol
  • K9 Unit Corps
  • Investigative Unit
  • The MCTF

The PCSO works in conjunction with the MCTF on larger investigations. For the sheriff, the work begins inside the county.

“I’ve got a good group of deputies that are energetic about their job,” said Radcliff. “These guys are out there just doing their job, and they are making good stops. They’re making good arrests.”

Deputy Ryan Howard works overnights for the PCSO. He focuses on roadway safety. Things like speeding, drunk driving, and mechanical issues with vehicles.

pickaway county sheriff's deputy
(Photo by Tony Mirones) Pickaway County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Howard (right) talks with another officer about a traffic stop.

“Everybody has their niche,” said Sheriff Radcliff. “I’d say that’s his niche. He is a traffic enforcer.”

“I get to get out here and help people and try and prevent accidents and help people where can,” said Howard. “Talk to anybody around here, They’ll tell you I’m the OVI guy.”

In 2019, Mothers Against Drunk Driving honored Howard with the MADD Excellence Award for drunk driving intervention.

“I’m always getting them,” said Howard with a smile. “Whether it’s by sheer luck or good police work I don’t know.”

NBC4i.com rode along with him to watch him work. The first thing we noticed was not a cop with a goal of finding the “bad guys.” Instead, we saw a dad who wanted to finish his shift to be home with his family.

“mmmmuHH,” Howard blew a kiss to his 18-month-old via Facetime before his shift began. “Alright bud, I love you.”

“Sky and my boy are out here sometimes running errands,” said Howard. “It hits a lot closer to home for me.”

When Howard arrests someone for drug possession or drunk driving, he sees the encounter as two things. He took a danger off the street and may have save that suspect’s life at the same time.

“We do have success stories out of our court system with probation. It works for people that want it to work. I’ve seen people a year later and they’ve thanked me for stopping them and arresting them for their little bit of drugs.”

There are times the Sheriff’s Office will send out a news release to the media without the arrest coming from his office. Instead, his K9 units have helped track suspects and or drugs.

The PCSO K9 corps incorporates five dogs and their handlers. Two of them are single-purpose use and the other three are dual-use.

“They take a lot of passion in what they do and they have a great set of dogs that they are working with,” said Radcliff.

Ultimately, the reason the sheriff sends all of these news releases is to praise his deputies and a warning to others.

“Hopefully letting the bad guys know if you come to Pickaway County you’re going to get caught,” Sheriff Radcliff said.