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Traffic blitz shows return of OVI Task Force

November 3, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
At 11 p.m. Oct. 22, the Mahoning County OVI Task Force returned after a yearlong break. The blitz was manned by 13 area police officers and cruisers as they made a clean sweep of Boardman Township.

Boardman was targeted as one of three areas in Mahoning County where crashes and fatalities from people operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated have been recorded. According to Canfield Assistant police Chief Scott Weamer, Boardman, Austintown, and Youngstown are a focal point for the coming 12 months for the task force. Weamer is coordinating the task force since Canfield has taken the role of host agency for the grant year, which runs from Oct. 1 to the end of September 2012.

“We pick the locations based on data,” Weamer said. “While we want to focus on Austintown, Boardman, and Youngstown, we won’t be confined to those communities. We will spread out to other communities as well.”

In prior years, the Goshen Police Department hosted the OVI Task Force. The success saw a drop in OVI traffic crashes and fatalities and last year the grant was no longer available. Over the past 10 months, the OVI cases rose and Weamer applied and got the grant back, with Canfield taking on the role of host agency.

In scheduling the first event for the grant year, Boardman was an obvious choice. Boardman Police Sgt. John Allsopp said the fatality rate had taken a drastic jump.

“Prior to this year's three suspected impaired driving fatalities, we had not had a single impaired driving fatality since 2006 in which we had two separate alcohol-related fatalities occur that year," he said.

Allsopp, who serves as a patrol division traffic unit supervisor, said the numbers were there and when Boardman was selected for the first blitz, the decision was made to cover the entire township.

In a blitz, officers working with the OVI Task Force simply saturate the area in patrol cars looking for anyone who is not obeying the traffic laws, or that appears to be impaired. On Oct. 22, there were 13 patrol cars working the township from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Oct. 23.

“The officers that worked this specific operation were from the Boardman Township Police Department, Canfield Police Department, Goshen Township Police Department, New Middletown Police Department, Beaver Township Police Department, Mill Creek MetroParks Police Department, Jackson Township Police Department, Mahoning County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol,” Allsopp said.

He said each officer had a patrol car from their own locality. Each car was outfitted with a magnetic sign indicating that they are working with the Mahoning County OVI Task Force.

As for the officers themselves, each is deputized as a Mahoning County Reserve Deputy by the Mahoning County Sheriff. Weamer said the Sheriff has been real supportive of the OVI Task Force and by deputizing the officers, they can work anywhere in the county.

“When our officers involved in the Boardman blitz approached a vehicle, they introduced themselves as an officer with the Mahoning County OVI Task Force,”

said Weamer.

With all the details covered, the blitz went off and proved to be a big success. Five motorists were arrested for OVI, one arrested for drugs and another person picked up on an outstanding Boardman warrant.

“Since the Mahoning County OVI Task Force's inception back in 2004, OVI TF saturation patrol blitzes in Boardman Township typically average about five to eight arrests per operation,” Allsopp said. “So, while seven arrests is again unfortunate, it is what we have come to expect during such operations.”

Besides the arrests, the blitz saw 54 traffic stops with citations given for a seat belt violation, a prohibited window tint, two marked lanes violations, a turn signal violation, and an expired license plate.

“The ultimate goal of the OVI Task Force is to save lives and reduce the amount of injuries that are the result of alcohol- and drug-related crashes,” Allsopp said. “I absolutely believe that OVI Task Force operations such as our Oct. 22 blitz, as well as upcoming sobriety checkpoints, will greatly assist in reducing the amount of impaired drivers that decide to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.”

Article Photos

Sgt. John Paul Allsopp



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