Expanded task force helps area

The ability of law enforcement throughout the Ohio Valley to track down, arrest and prosecute fugitives and other criminals was strengthened last week, and we believe it will prove beneficial for all of our residents.

In a press conference at the Historic Fort Steuben on Monday, Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin was sworn in as a special assistant United States attorney. In addition, five law enforcement officers from Jefferson and Belmont counties – Steubenville Police Officers Jason Hanlin and Tom Ellis, Jefferson County Deputy Chris Vinci and Belmont County deputies Ted Starkey and Rick Flanigan Jr. – became members of the Mountain State Fugitive Task Force.

It is no secret there is a major concern with the amount of crime in our area, but law enforcement officials often find themselves having to find new cooperative avenues, not only between counties, but also states. When criminals can cross through three states within five minutes, having those connections becomes that much more important.

By granting such authority to Hanlin and incorpating the Ohio officers into the task force, these lines will be much less divisive, and a truly regional approach can be taken.

Criminals don’t stay in one area, as was noted Monday. In that respect, our law enforcement officials shouldn’t have to always worry about being hindered over areas of authority. The Mountain State Task Force has the ability to cross state borders to track down criminals, and now Hanlin has the ability to file federal charges, if needed, even if the person in question is not located in Jefferson County.

We congratulate all those involved and hope to continue seeing growth in the cooperative efforts of law enforcement throughout the Ohio Valley.