Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine believes he is making a measurable difference as state's top law enforcement officer by initiating reforms that bring criminal evidence to court quicker.
DeWine, also a former U.S. senator, served as keynote speaker for the Belmont County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner on Tuesday at Undo's West in St. Clairsville.
"I love this job," he said. "I love it because I wake up in the morning or in the middle of the night and decide to do something. I can walk in the office, and we can do it.
Photo by Joselyn King/Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, left, greets Belmont County Republican Party Chairman Kent Moore during Tuesday night’s Lincoln Day Dinner in St. Clairsville.
"I loved being in the Senate ... but the difference in being in the U.S. Senate and attorney general is this: I don't have to convince 59 other human beings in the Senate that my idea is good," he continued. "I'll be honest, I don't even have to convince my own staff. Sometimes they just shake their heads, and I tell them I'm the big idea. They have to figure out a way to do it."
Among DeWine's biggest ideas was partnering with the Cincinnati-based Cintas work uniforms company to determine how analysis at the Bureau of Criminal Investigations could be completed more quickly.
"They (BCI) always did a great job, but they were never in a hurry to get the job done," DeWine said.
When he took office in 2011, the BCI labs were taking an average of 125 days to test evidence gathered by law enforcement. This allowed some suspected criminals to remain free for an extended period of time before being charged, or for some investigations and cases to be drawn out over months or years.
Last year, the average time for completion of crime analysis by BCI was just 22 days, he said.
In Cleveland alone, there were over 4,000 rape kits awaiting analysis in 2011, and the backlog stretched back as long as 18 years, according to DeWine. As many as 3,000 of those kits now have been tested.
"To my surprise, we have been getting hits (identifying the criminal) in one out of every three of those cases," he said. "I've told the police and prosecutors this: If you've got a case that can't wait 22 days you tell us, because we can turn that case around in 48 hours if we have to. We'll put it in front of the line, and we'll get the job done."
Belmont County GOP chairman Kent Moore said about 225 people turned out for Tuesday's dinner.
During the festivities, the party named A. Kellie Conway of St. Clairsville to the Belmont County Republican Hall of Fame.