Clermont County 20/20 Leaders spent part of their day with Pierce Township canine officer Jay Shaw and his partner, Razec, Thursday, Feb. 5.
Pierce Township Police Chief Jim Smith gave the group an overview of the drug problem in Clermont County as an introduction to the canine program.
“With the pending layoffs in the jail and closing off a 32 bed cell block, that will take us back to the level of 10 years ago,” said Smith. “The incidence of drug complaints to the narcotics unit has increased about 50 percent in Clermont County from 2006 to 2008. Drugs are the primary factor in the majority of the crimes.”
The number of arrests made by the narcotics unit in 2006 was 172, in 2008 the number increased by 39 percent to 223. The amount of marijuana seized in Clermont County in 2006 was 56 pounds, in 2008, it was 1,560 pounds. According to Smith, Clermont County has the dubious distinction of being one of the leading producers of methamphetamine in the entire United States.
"In 2006 we seized one gram of meth; in 2008, we seized 335 grams an increase of 335 percent," said Smith. "We saw an increase in pharmaceutical seizures of 275 percent from 2006 to 2008. In 2006, there were 4,000 seizures and in 2008 11,000."
The number of marijuana plants seized in 2006 was 380, in 2008 the number grew to 1,844 plants.
"And these are only the arrests and seizures by the small narcotics unit," said Smith. "This does not include the arrests and seizures from each of the townships, villages or cities in Clermont County."
"The first duty of every government is the protection of its citizens," said Smith. "There has been a virtual explosion of drugs in quiet Clermont County. This comes at a time when we are laying off police and corrections officers. There is no room at the Clermont County Jail. Persons who are sentenced may have to wait one to three years before they serve their sentence. In the meantime, they are still on the street committing more crimes."
Officer Shaw and Razec began working together as partners in April 2005. Razec, at age seven months, was the youngest dog ever certified in the state of Ohio.
"Razec is also certified in patrol, tracking, criminal apprehension, area and building search and article search," said Shaw. "I have the best job in the world, who else gets to go to work everyday with their best friend."
"We need three things to make our work possible," said Shaw. "Support and backing from law enforcement and the community; dedication, because the job requires 24/7 commitment and family support. Without my wife helping, we couldn't do our job."
A small amount of narcotics had been hidden in the podium of the meeting room and when Shaw gave the hand signal, Razec found the drugs and stood with his nose as close as possible until Shaw gave him the signal that his work was done.
According to Shaw, he purchased Razec and his former canine, Cezar, with his own funds and receives compensation for veterinarian visits and treatments from the township. Chief Smith said that Shaw does receive a stipend for caring for the dog at home.