METRICH Combats Opioid Crisis And More In North Central Ohio

  • 9/9/2019 2:38:37 PM
  • Sartaj Singh
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - "We cannot arrest our way out of this."

That's what Assistant Chief of Police Joseph Petrycki says is the most important factor in the current opioid epidemic in the state of Ohio. 

Each day, the state of Ohio is combating the growing threat of opioids, from targeting drug dealers, helping those with addiction, and stopping the flow of drugs from coming into the buckeye state. Local police agencies have to juggle this along with their focus on keeping the neighborhood safe from other dangers. 

In North Central Ohio, an organization has been hard at work over the past couple of years combating the rise of drugs getting into the local area: The METRICH Enforcement Unit. 

The METRICH Enforcement Unit is a regional task force located in North Central Ohio. The organization investigates drug trafficking that occur in Richland and surrounding counties. Formation of the unit was started by the Mansfield Division of Police, Richland County Sheriff's Office, and the Richland County Prosecutors office. 

The task force conducts long-term investigations into how drugs are getting into the region, and what individuals are trying to deal those drugs in the area. METRICH also listens to public inquiries on suspected drug houses that are causing issues in the community. 

METRICH also launches investigations into surrounding states that are identified as "source states", such as Michigan, Illinois, and New York. Source states are areas where drugs are currently being brought into the country and are making their way into North Central Ohio. 

"It is very important that we continue to focus not only on the other illegal drugs but the opioid epidemic," Petrycki states. "We cannot arrest our way out of this. We have to make a better  focus on what I like to say a three pronged approach, enforcement, prevention, and then education/treatment."

The organizations main goal is the enforcement and investigation of those that want to bring/deal illegal drugs in North Central Ohio. 

With new rises in drug trends, the METRICH Enforcement Unit is also preparing on how to combat new drugs that may make thier way into North Central Ohio. The task force states that while they may be focusing on heroin or fentanyl today, they are actively preparing themselves on combating new drug trends, such as Methamphatemines. 

Petrycki goes on to further emphasize that drug addicts do not need to be in jail in order to help them get over their addiction. He also clarifies that if the individual is at a point where they are having an episode that the only way to save their life is to be incarcerated, then that is something the Unit will help them with, all in order to give them the help and resources that they need to get over their addiction. 

"We advocate that if that is the only place that we know that they are going to survive, then we would like to put them in jail." Petrycki explains. "Long term, no. We want to see them directed toward a treatment facility to someone that can assist them full-time."

METRICH works hand-in-hand with multiple agencies in the area, such as the Richland County Opiate board, Catalyst Life Services, the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, and more. 

Officers involved with the unit also go out into the community to keep the public informed on current trends in drug trafficking, as well as speak to those that the Opioid epidemic has affected personally. 

"We have officers that go out weekly to speak to those that have overdosed to help steer them in the direction of treatment." Petrski states. "I think that is very important as a task force. We have to continue to focus on enforcement, but we also need to branch out and work closely with the treatment and the education professional."

Region wide, the METRICH Enforcement Unit has seized nearly 500 gram of heroin, nearly 1800 unit doses of Fentanyl pills. In Richland County specifically, the Unit is approaching 100 grams of heroin and 95 grams of Fentanyl mixtures seized in investigations that are located within the county. 

Over the past three years, the task force has indicted close to 100 people, with over 80 of those individuals receiving federal indictments. 

"We already know who our next targets are, we are moving forward with another long term investigation," said Petrycki. "We know who is dealing drugs in Richland County, its just a matter of time... don't do it. Don't do it North Central Ohio, cause METRICH will get you."

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