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Community engagement, domestic violence support becomes main focus of Franklin County crime blitz

Each law enforcement agency wanted to focus on the needs of its community.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ohio — Several Franklin County law enforcement agencies, including the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and the Whitehall Division of Police, took part in an operation to curb violent crimes and illegal activity in the area.

Dubbed "Operation Unity," law enforcement spent Wednesday riding through neighborhoods in their respective precincts to conduct traffic stops and serve arrest warrants. Additionally, each agency wanted to focus on the needs of its community.

In the past month, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office has investigated five homicides -- all originating from the same area on the county's west side.

The sheriff's office decided to focus its resources on Prairie Township and Franklin Township in “Operation Unity.”

“In response to some recent uptick in crime we've seen, the Prairie Township trustees, as well as concerns from the community, Sheriff Baldwin thought it was important to show our commitment to the community. We're out here trying to make a difference today. We've dedicated some specific targeted crime initiatives,” Chief Deputy Jim Gilbert explained.

Deputies searched a vehicle in Prairie Township and K9 Ghost alerted authorities to the smell of narcotics. Deputies then arrested a man at a nearby apartment complex on an outstanding warrant and seized suspected narcotics and drug paraphernalia from their home.

Deputies also conducted two traffic stops around a shopping complex in Prairie Township. They recovered suspected, fentanyl, pills and drug paraphernalia and two suspects were arrested for drug possession.

This "Operation Unity" wasn't entirely focused on enforcement. Deputies wanted to be more engaged with the community and let Franklin County residents know they were there to help them.

“It's a wonderful thing to come out and get good engagement with the kids. One of the guys sitting next to me said I'm glad because there's a lot going on with police officers and the way these kids feel about them. It was good to see them interact in a positive way, see the cops smile at them,” said Josh Roseatreter, a lead pastor from Redemption Hill Church.

The Whitehall Division of Police took part in Operation Unity. Their focus was on domestic violence, with a team trying to track down offenders with domestic violence warrants outside of Whitehall and a team knocking on doors in the city.

Whitehall Police Deputy Chief Dan Kelso explained that even with an increase of shootings and reported carjackings, a focus on domestic violence is important.

“Those kinds of things are kind of different type of crime than domestic violence," Kelso said about the violent crime. "Those types of things are maybe random violence or people who have beefs with each other. This is different. This happens behind closed doors. Often times relatives, neighbors, friends, know it's going on, but no one says anything.”

While their goal was to find people with warrants, Whitehall police wanted to raise awareness about domestic violence, hoping more people will come forward and report the abuse.

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is when good men do nothing. Do something,” Kelso said.

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