ELYRIA — The Lorain County commissioners on Wednesday ratified a longstanding practice of allowing police officers and firefighters to cross jurisdictional lines in the county to assist other agencies in fire and arson investigations.
Oberlin Fire Chief Dennis Kirin said the practice has been around for at least 30 years in the county, with various police officers and firefighters with specialized training doing the work.
But he said that the decision was made to put a formal memorandum of understanding in place so that those involved in the investigations would be covered if legal problems arose.
Kirin said because arson investigations cross from firefighting into law enforcement, there’s a need for access expertise on the part of police handling those types of cases.
“You don’t get to the arson until you get into the investigation,” he said.
Lorain County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh said probing fire scenes is “a unique investigation.” He said the county’s law enforcement agencies have similar mutual aid agreements in place, as do fire departments.
Lorain County Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Kelley said that such cross-discipline assistance agreements are fairly rare in Ohio.
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