ELYRIA — Wanted: Lorain County fugitives.A new Lorain County division of the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force intends to catch 5,000 outstanding warrants in the county and announced it’s a permanent local fixture during a Wednesday news conference at the Lorain County sheriff’s office — the task force’s new home.
Flanked by chiefs and representatives of local law enforcement agencies, U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott attributed the creation of the county office to the success of a September roundup that caught 100 fugitives and thanked his badge-wearing comrades for their work and the work to come.
“It’s been very successful here and will continue to be,” he said. “Our strength is in our partnerships.”
The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force currently operates out of offices in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo and Youngstown, and provides assistance and expertise in support of fugitive investigations.
Local police officers and detectives will be sworn in as special deputy U.S. marshals, granting them the authority to detain visiting fugitives within their own jurisdiction and broaden the county’s jurisdictional authority.
The federal government funds the participating officers’ overtime, the use of their vehicles and equipment.
Prior to teaming up, nearly half of the fugitives fell under the Lorain County sheriff’s office’s jurisdiction, while 1,000 were sought by the Elyria Police Department and 1,500 were sought by Lorain police.
Elyria Police Chief Michael Medders said he believes in the new system.
Of the 100 fugitives caught initially in September, 45 were from Elyria but had drifted in and out of the city.
“If they’re not in (Elyria), then other agencies may not be looking for them,” Medders said. “That’s what made them hard to catch.”
While many of the fugitives are people who typically don’t follow up with their court dates, the task force will seek out the most violent and dangerous fugitives, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal David Siler.
Siler has been a part of local roundups in the past and was in charge of the division when it opened its doors a month ago.
He said he looks forward to heading up the new permanent task force, and runaway thugs can expect a visit from some old-fashioned justice.
“The U.S. Marshal used to set up posses looking for wanted men,” Siler said. “That’s what we’re going to do in Lorain County.”
Contact Stephen Szucs at 336-4016 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.