TAG formed to combat drugs, gangs

The TAG Law Enforcement Task Force is a multi-county agency that was formed by the sheriffs in the counties of Trumbull and Ashtabula. TAG focuses its investigations on drug traffickers, gangs, firearms traffickers, and Homeland Security issues.

The process to form TAG began shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when the sheriffs determined that communication on crime in their counties could be improved by our regionalization.

Jeff Orr, TAG commander and a captain with the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, explained that local law enforcement started seeing meth labs springing up in Ashtabula back in 2005.

Local investigators had to call the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which would respond to help “clean up” the lab, remove the potentially dangerous situation and rid the site of hazardous materials. When the evidence was gathered, DEA would call a contract company to haul away the hazardous materials.

Orr said local investigators would have to sit and wait, sometimes an entire work day, or up to eight hours, for the contractor to arrive. The situation became overwhelming for the DEA.

Local law enforcement took the initiative and started training local police, deputies and investigators to respond and complete the work DEA had been doing. Orr said that because it was never clear how long TAG would exist, individuals from various police agencies were also trained so they could continue to work the sites.

The training of individuals has increased as the need becomes greater. For example, TAG is sending another local investigator to Columbus for training in June.

TAG consists of deputy sheriffs having full law enforcement powers in each of the participating counties. TAG also enlists the assistance of federal and state law enforcement agencies in the pursuit of our mission.