Governor launches Southwest Ohio branch of Narcotics Intelligence Center in West Chester

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today launched operations at the newest division of the  Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center In West Chester Twp. SUBMITTED

caption arrowCaption
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today launched operations at the newest division of the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center In West Chester Twp. SUBMITTED

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine launched operations Wednesday at the newest division of the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center.

The southwest Ohio ONIC office in West Chester Twp. in Butler County is staffed with criminal intelligence analysts and computer forensic specialists who help local law enforcement agencies trace drug trafficking organizations back to ringleaders and suppliers through intelligence-driven investigations, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

DeWine first launched the ONIC in 2019 with offices in Columbus and Cleveland. Due to statewide demand for ONIC’s services, the governor worked with the Ohio General Assembly to secure additional funding to create new offices in northwest and southwest Ohio.

“As drugs continue to flow into our country from the southern border, the expansion of our Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center into southwest Ohio shows our state’s ongoing commitment to doing all we can to rid our communities of deadly narcotics,” DeWine said. “Digital evidence continues to play an increasing role in the drug trade, and our ONIC teams offer expert criminal intelligence and technical forensic support to help our local law enforcement officers intercept drugs and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.”

Law enforcement representatives and area prosecutors attended the opening, including West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog and Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steve Knippen.

The chief said West Chester Police Department is excited to have access to such an exceptional crime fighting tool right in its backyard.

“We have spent funds and obtained grants to train our own officers in this technology, however maintaining the equipment and expertise has become difficult,” Herzog said. “ONIC has the experts ready to effectively and expeditiously download, analyze, and report information back to local law enforcement to lock down a solid criminal case to ensure a conviction.”

Since the ONIC’s inception, intelligence analysts and forensic specialists have assisted in nearly 2,000 criminal investigations involving the extraction and analysis of more than 4,300 cellphones, more than five million images and videos, and more than five million text messages.

“I think it will significantly aid law enforcement with their capacity to perform forensic analyses on multiple types of electronic devices, including cell phones,” said Knippen. “Additionally, the analysts that work at the center will be able to extract multiple data points (text messages, location services, etc.) and distill that information and put it into a format that will help prosecutors more clearly tell the story to the jury of what occurred leading up to and during the commission of the offense. Overall, we are very excited about the possibilities of this new center to aid in holding people accountable for their crimes.”

About the Author