New Philadelphia, Ohio - The Tuscarawas County Prosecutor’s Office had a very busy year in 2018.
Prosecutor Ryan Styer recently released a report on the cases his office handled last year. He says they saw a 50-percent increase in felony cases, with drug cases representing the largest portion of that increase.
“We can attribute most of that increase to what is a very significant increase in drug possession cases that have been charged last year,” he says. “Usually, adding up the number of counts of drug possession, we’re a little over 100 per year in years past. Last year, we had almost a 300 percent increase. We had 307 counts of drug possession.”
Styer attributes some this increase to improved detection by local law enforcement agencies.
“We probably have as many canines in the county as we’ve ever had, and law enforcement has been working them really well. We see a lot of cases where drugs have been detected by canines,” he says.
Styer says the county is also experiencing a sharp uptick in drug use, particularly with crystal meth.
“I think the drug problem is not getting better. I think there’s a proliferation of drug use, and that’s certainly a factor as well,” he says.
Styer says this growing caseload prompted them to make a few personnel changes this past year just to keep up with the demand.
“This year, we do actually have additional staffing and, in part, it was due to the increased caseload. I took one prosecutor who was working at three-quarters time and he was bumped up to full time. That helps relieve the pressure somewhat, and we’ve also added a third victim advocate to our office based on an increase in a grant that we received from the state, and so that also significantly helps relieve the stress,” he says.
Styer’s report also breaks down how last year’s felony cases were resolved. Of the 335 cases that went through the county court system last year, 98 percent were resolved without going to trial. Three defendants were tried and found guilty, two were found not guilty by reason of insanity and 10 cases were dismissed.
To view the full report, visit tusco.tv/download_file/459/0.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV