PDT Staff Writer
Despite lost time from injuries, transfers and promotions, the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol put up some numbers in 2012 and has already jumped into 2013 with both feet.
“They operated with less people and did more,” Portsmouth Post Commander, Lt. Karla Taulbee said. “You couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Taulbee said troopers stopped over 4,000 cars last year, up from stops in 2011.
“They were aggressively apprehending impaired drivers and the drug couriers,” Taulbee said. “Our crashes are also down from 2011. They investigated over 1,100 crashes in 2012, but that’s 148 less than we had in 2011. And they’re looking beyond the stop, which is what they’re trained to do.”
Troopers from the Portsmouth Post initiated 156 criminal cases last year, seizing marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and chemicals used to manufacture meth, prescription pills, and cash.
“We’re not even done with January yet, and we’re getting double seizures a night,” Taulbee said. “So far, this month alone, they (troopers) seized over 6,800 pills, 145 grams of marijuana, seven ounces and 46 grams of heroin, 14 ounces and 44 grams of cocaine. We got a stolen car. We got stolen tags, two loaded handguns, and that’s just from basically three weeks.”
Taulbee also credited the inter-agency cooperation.
“We want to make the roadways safe, and it takes more than just us to do this, the whole law enforcement community,” Taulbee said. “I’m fortunate, with the New Boston PD, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Portsmouth PD, the Shawnee State (University) police, with David Thoroughman. We all work together as a group. We all discuss what’s going on and who needs help with what.”
Taulbee said Porter Township is the largest area of the county for automobile crashes, with that community accounting for a full 25 percent of the crashes.
“We’re going to be working with the the Sheriff’s Department, with the Porter Township deputies, and we’re just going to aggressively hit the red lights and stop signs in Porter Township, to get those crashes down,” Taulbee said. “Last year the city had three fatal crashes; two were alcohol related. I sat down with Chief (Robert) Ware and we got a game plan going on how we’re going to try to get those alcohol related crashes down, especially the fatals in the city.”
Taulbee said while the county’s crashes are down - their number of fatalities are up.
“We had 12 fatal crashes in 2011. We had 15 last year,” Taulbee said. “We also had two hit-skip fatal crashes, and one hit-skip resulted in serious injury. So I’m going to ask the public, when they are out and about, if they see a crash, to pay attention as to what the vehicle looks like - the drivers - to just kind of pay a little more attention to them. We don’t want people gawking or running off the road either. We just want them to be aware. The next day there might be a story in the Daily Times or on the radio, that we are looking for this information. And we need the public to be our eyes and ears.”
As a part of that effort, the OSHP will have a Community Shield training session at the Portsmouth Post. The training will be approximately one hour long and will consist of impaired driving detection, criminal patrol and illegal drug interdiction, homeland security, human trafficking, and how to safely report possible criminal activity and highway dangers.
“It’s about citizens on the road spotting illegal activity and assisting law enforcement,” Taulbee said. “The public is our extra eyes and ears. We had three drug seizures last year where the public called in and reported an impaired driver. Troopers found the car, made the stop. #677 is a number people can call to report drug activity and impaired drivers. Of course, if it’s an emergency, call 911. So we’re going to be working with everybody. We’re going to have OVI Checkpoints this year, and we’re going to be having our Shield details, which is a multi-agency enforcement.”
Taulbee said troopers will also be in area schools.
“We work with the schools a lot,” Taulbee said. “Troopers are in there every month talking with teenagers about teen driving and driving safety, wearing their seat belts. We do the mock crashes. We do the prom promises.”
One of the ways the Patrol will deal with teen driving issues is a distracted driver poster contest with all the schools. The winning poster and the students creating that poster will be displayed on a billboard on U.S. 23, as well as on a display at the Scioto County Fair.
Taulbee said another underrated feature was the return of the dispatchers to the Portsmouth Post.
“I know a lot of people think that dispatchers just answer the phones,” Taulbee said. “They do so much more. They’re out there keeping track of where everybody is. We’ve had so many drug seizures lately, and the dispatchers are in there searching for who they are and who they aren’t, trying to find out who the person arrested is. That is such a great asset to us. It helps us a lot to have the dispatchers back here at our post. I’m very fortunate to have that.”
Taulbee said she is looking forward to the arrival of Quinn Dunn, a Northwest High School Graduate, scheduled to finish up at the OSHP Academy on Feb. 8.
“He’s going to be our new trooper here,” Taulbee said. “We can’t wait. Everybody is excited.”
Taulbee and her troopers keep their focus on safety.
“Our goal for Scioto County is to make the community and the roadways safer,” Taulbee said. “Each year you try to make the next year better, and that’s what our goals are, and that’s what motivates the troopers every day when they come to work.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.