Sheriff’s office may get OD training

Ashtabula County will share knowledge

WARREN — Specialized training for police officers investigating accidental drug overdoses could be coming to Trumbull County from officers in Ashtabula County who received the training recently.

Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe said he would be interested in bringing the training to his officers.

Sharing techniques and training initiatives between departments is always good for policing, Monroe said, also noting he plans to ramp up enforcement efforts in the near future

Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Terry Moisio said investigating accidental drug overdoses — fatal or not — can help officers crack drug trafficking distribution chains. It also can help with filing manslaughter charges if appropriate.

Investigating a drug overdose death is like investigating other crimes by following up on leads and working whatever angles possible, Moisio said.

The training was offered to police departments in Ashtabula County who participate in the Ashtabula County Overdose Task Force and eight departments took part, Moisio said. The task force received a grant through the U.S. Attorney’s Office to fund the training.

While officers are well-versed on evidence collection, the training sets guidelines that can help move overdose investigations along, Moisio said.

With overdose investigations , getting into the victim’s cell phone can be very helpful, Moisio said. Officers need to know when they need consent to look through a phone, when to get a search warrant and in the case of a person who died, what to look for to track down the dealer.

“Every user buys the stuff from a dealer, who gets it from a supplier, who gets it from the distributor,” Moisio said. “If we can get into a phone and find out who the users made the arrangements with, we can work on the supply chain and crack down on the availability.”

The departments have access to software that opens a phone up to investigators and once it is plugged in, the software generates an easy to read report of all of the activity on the phone, Moisio said. Officers can look through text messages and phone calls, even ones that have been deleted. It also shows activity on the phone’s applications, video and photo gallery.

While it can be time consuming to work drug overdose cases, they can be one of the best ways to break up distribution networks, Moisio said. That is another reason why coordinating with other agencies — like the Cleveland office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and local sheriff’s offices — is so important, Moisio said.

Moisio and Monroe said a collaboration between Trumbull and Ashtabula counties will last even if the Trumbull-Ashtabula Law Enforcement Task Force is dissolved. Even if Ashtabula County commissioners choose to stand by an April letter rescinding participation after a TAG personnel dispute, the agencies will still team up for investigations, training and share other resources, Monroe said.

The commissioners are expected to make a decision in the next week.

Ashtabula’s overdose task force’s $65,000 grant also helped facilitate the creation of an overdose database to help departments track who is overdosing and where. The county also integrated reporting systems, so every member of the overdose task force is notified when there is an overdose and an investigation can begin.