What is METRICH?
The investigative group known today as the METRICH Enforcement Unit began in 1986 with a goal of reducing the availability of illegal drugs in Richland County. Early in 1986 the Prosecutor's Office and local law enforcement became concerned about the possibility of investigative duplication between the Mansfield Division of Police and the Richland County Sheriff's Office. It was learned that both agencies were planning to raid the same location. As a result of several meetings that followed, law enforcement leaders decided that it would be much more cost effective and safer for Richland County Law Enforcement Agencies to work together on drug related cases. Officers would meet daily, share information and available resources, and ultimately jointly conduct raids and arrests.
What resulted were very high profile cases with many asking who would get the credit. It was decided that the group of investigators working together would be called METRICH (Metro-Richland County).
This not only gave the investigators collective identity but to the citizens, METRICH was an example of cooperative law enforcement working efficiently. All assets seized by the group would be used to purchase necessary equipment and help further demand reduction programs.
By 1988 the State of Ohio made funds available through Federal Byrne Memorial Grants to agencies willing to form task forces with a goal of reducing Ohio's drug supply.
At this time METRICH, now known as the METRICH Enforcement Unit, became a funded task force through the Office of Criminal Justice Services. The City of Mansfield was the Grantee (all funds passed through Mansfield) and the Mansfield Division of Police became the Implementing Agency (Responsible for all grant mandates). Captain Phil Messer, who had been the group's supervisor, now became the task force Project Director. In 2010, upon retirement, then Chief Messer was replaced by Chief Dino Sgambellone as Project Director.
As the years passed, the State encouraged task force growth promoting regional cooperation and greater efficiency.
METRICH grew from Richland County in 1988 to nine counties and forty communities by 1999 using the same basic decentralized
structure we started with in 1986. Several counties which included most of their communities were added as follows:
|1.||Crawford County||March 1990|
|2.||Huron County||June 1991|
|3.||Morrow County||July 1991|
|4.||Knox County||December 1991|
|5.||Seneca County||March 1992|
|6.||Marion County||January 1993|
|7.||Ashland County||July 1993|
|8.||Hancock County||October 1999|
|9.||Wyandot County||September 2000|
METRICH remains one of the only decentralized task forces in the state promoting a Community Policing philosophy approach to task force operations. There is a control group in each county (Prosecutor, Sheriff, and Chiefs of Police) that direct local efforts including setting local goals and objectives in support of the regional goals and objectives.
The METRICH Control Board is represented by each of the eight (9) Prosecutors, Sheriffs and the Chief of Police of the participating agencies. Our board sets goals/objectives, approves regional plans, and addresses problems at the local level, while addressing regional concerns through the Project Director.
An operations manual addressing areas of concern such as informant control, confidential funds and investigative guidelines was also developed and approved by the Control Board.
Asset or inventory control is accomplished by asseting all equipment purchases to the grantee (City of Mansfield) which is required by the grant. All assets are tracked and inventoried semi-annually.
Funding is obtained through grants administered by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS). This grant funding is utilized to support task force operations throughout all ten counties.
This organizational and operational strategy has resulted in the METRICH Enforcement Unit becoming one of the most successful and longest sustained task forces in Ohio.