COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) – The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is creating a task force specifically focused on preventing violence.
Using a $300,000 state grant awarded to the sheriff’s office by Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday, the agency is creating what they’re calling the Central Ohio Violence Eradication Response Team, or COVERT.
COVERT will use technology to identify “enterprises” of violent crime, eliminate a backlog of firearm evidence and connect at-risk youth with mentors and counseling services, according to a news release from DeWine’s office.
Chief Deputy Rick Minerd with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said there is rarely a day that goes by without a violent crime in central Ohio.
“You hear a lot about the shootings and the homicides, but what you don’t hear a lot about is the thefts and the quality of life crimes that also happen in these areas,” Minerd said.
Stopping the violence will be a team effort, and that is what COVERT is all about, Minerd said. The new task force will help supplement the technology the sheriff’s office already uses to solve crimes.
“Ideally, when we have a backlog on these cases and before they are destroyed, we want to analyze these with NIBINs (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) — and again that’s sort of a fingerprint or DNA system with firearms,” Minerd said. “So you’re basically piecing information together.”
The task force will also help to create partnerships with business owners, Minerd said.
“We really want to mix in some educational opportunities for business owners and educate them on the part that they play in this as well,” he said. “In terms of areas where people congregate, pawn shops or scrap yards that are taking the catalytic converters and all that stuff.”
Minerd said many people involved with crimes are youth who are often dealing with mental health issues or abusing drugs.
They plan to partner with the court system and hospitals to connect people with resources to help disconnect them from crime.
“That way we can identify someone who is at the peripheral of the investigation so that we can offer them resources and get them disconnected from that situation,” Minerd said.
The Sheriff’s office will be bringing on more detectives and personnel for this operation, Miner said..
He also said they applied for another state grant Friday that would help provide equipment for the task force and expand it even further.