MAUMEE, Ohio (WTVG) - The Maumee Police Department is assigning an officer to a federal task force that focuses mainly on human trafficking and illegal drugs. Those are major issues that the Maumee chief of police says plague Ohio.
This is a move city leaders have been discussing for about a year now. The Maumee officer will begin his new federal role in about two weeks.
The federal task force is called "Safe Streets."
"I really believe this a two way street. It's good for the task force and it's good for our community," said Maumee Police Chief David Tullis.
Chief Tullis says the program is a three pronged attack on crime. It focuses on locating fugitives, human trafficking and holding what he calls "dealers of death" accountable.
Heroin is a major concern locally.
"In fact in about a three week period we had three 30-year-olds die of an overdose. I mean, that's ... one is too much. This is just getting to be out of hand," said Chief Tullis.
Adding a Maumee officer to the federal program is something the city, city council and the police department have worked together on. The chief believes it will give the community access to better resources.
"It's almost like a force multiplier," said Chief Tullis.
Chief Tullis says the FBI, ATF, BCI, Toledo Police, Lucas County Sheriff's Office, Sylvania Township Police, and Oregon Police are all part of "Safe Streets."
Maumee Mayor Rich Carr says the goal is better education and prevention through collaboration.
"The idea being if you see something, you call. Even if it turns out to be nothing, we'd rather you call and let the police investigate it than to have something happen to a child in our community," said Mayor Carr.
Adding an officer to this federal force to learn more about what to look for in terms of human trafficking is a proactive measure. The concern is mainly due to Maumee's easy access to the turnpike and major highways.
"We have not had human trafficking in Maumee, but we want to do everything we can proactively to prevent an incident from happening," said Mayor Carr.
The city of Maumee will pay the officer's salary and benefits. He'll be committed to the federal role for five years.
"We're paying for somebody who's not going to be working in our community. I think we have a responsibility to do that. This problem is too serious," said Mayor Carr.
"We have an officer that's very experienced. [He] has been an investigator for us ... has been involved. He's on our SWAT team," said Chief Tullis.
The idea is this officer can relay information to local officers who then can educate the public to keep everyone alert and safe.
"It will be just make us better at what we do," said Mayor Carr.