Troopers Use Community Shield Program To Keep Eyes On The Roads

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The Community Shield program puts people on the roads to help troopers find problems on the highway.

The state highway patrol says it's taken an average of 2,800 calls a month since July 2012.

That's at least four calls every hour from the public. The calls are usually reporting someone or something suspicious on the roads.

Some of those calls come from specially-trained crime-fighters, who are part of Community Shield.

“When we are seizing 25 pounds of cocaine or 18 pounds of heroin at a time, we know we have a big problem here in Ohio,” said Lt. Anne Ralston.

Ralston says the Highway Patrol hopes the program continues to train more everyday citizens who are learning how to spot “specific” criminal behavior.

That number is nearing 3,500 people across the state.

Two of those callers this past year led troopers to the discovery of 1.5 kilos of cocaine and a handgun hidden behind a dashboard of a vehicle in Madison County.

Also, some of those drug calls make their way to the Patrol’s 24-hour Criminal Intelligence Unit.

“Is this something real? Is this someone, some personal situation? That's what our criminal intel is for, they are trained criminal analysts and then they put those pieces together, and they can push that information back out to appropriate agencies to follow up and deal with,” explained Ralston.

“It's not just calls about drug activity coming into the criminal intelligence unit.  In the last six months, highway troopers intercepted nine drunk drivers on the roads thanks to tips called in to the Community Shield line.

With 130 Community Shield trainings now in the books, the highway patrol hopes to train more people in 2014 as more criminals hit the roads.