Cooperating In War On Drugs

Less than a week after a man was gunned down on a Steubenville street, two suspects were arrested – across the Ohio River in Weirton. Earlier this week, they were sent back across the river to the Jefferson County jail.

That was just the most recent in a long series of cooperative efforts among law enforcement agencies in Ohio and West Virginia. They work extremely well together, sharing information as well as being on the lookout for suspects who may believe mistakenly crossing the river after a crime gives them some sort of protection.

But more cooperation is necessary to win the war against illegal drugs in the Ohio Valley, U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld suggested this week. Ihlenfeld, whose district encompasses northern West Virginia, was speaking to the Wheeling Rotary Club.

Much of the Northern Panhandle traffic in illegal drugs originates in Steubenville, Ihlenfeld had said previously. That probably came as no surprise to Ohio authorities, who understand drug kingpins from outside the area have made Steubenville a hub for drug pushing. As a result, the city also is being plagued by violence.

Not just on an interstate basis but also regionally, more cooperation among law enforcement agencies could help in our area, Ihlenfeld told the Rotarians. He said that, “from my office’s perspective, we’re looking at where (illegal drugs are) coming from. Is it Baltimore? Detroit? Pittsburgh? We need to work together with all of our resources and go after the sources of supply and cut it off.”


But law enforcement agencies pride themselves on cooperating with their peers in other areas already. Exactly what type of cooperation is lacking, and how can that be remedied? Surely, in this age of computer databases and massive communications networks, there are plenty of opportunities to use information as a weapon against the hoodlums.

It may be time for law enforcement officials throughout the country, perhaps under the auspices of U.S. Attorneys, to spend some time and resources examining what is needed to ensure the information weapon is being wielded as effectively as possible – and if not, to learn how the situation can be improved.