A drug-fighting initiative that started in Ross County is now expanding. The Ross County Sheriff implemented the program, known as STOPP, late last year. The acronym stands for Stop Trafficking or Pay the Price.
STOPP decals are visible on nearly all the sheriff’s cruisers in Ross County. The sheriff said they serve as a sign to traffickers that deputies in that county are committed to getting them off the streets.
The sheriff said it is because of deputies like Captain Dennis McKeever, who aggressively patrol the roads that the number of traffic stops is up nearly 400% from last year.
Sheriff Lavender said, “Out of that, with the initiative of the STOPP program, we are making drug arrests now, and I would say that’s increased 100% over what it was.”
Sheriff Lavender said the Stop Trafficking or Pay the Price program is meant to push deputies to stop more vehicles. The sheriff said the idea is that the stops will lead them to contraband, similar to what the office seized last weekend.
Tuesday, Sheriff Lavender met with his counterparts in Fayette, Pike and Pickaway counties to teach them about STOPP. Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff said, “We have a lot of activity that comes out of Franklin County down to our area.”
The Pickaway County Sheriff said just recently, his detectives arrested five people at a Circleville hotel. They had just purchased drugs in Columbus and were planning to sell them in Pickaway and Ross counties.
Sheriff Radcliff said he likes the idea behind STOPP and so do the others.
“We are not unique in what we have. We have to deal with our own problems individually, but we are trying to do it collectively through a program like STOPP,” Fayette County Sheriff Stanforth said.
Fayette, Pike, Pickaway and Ross counties already participate in another drug trafficking task force along U.S. 23, but that task force focuses on major investigations.