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Prosecuting The Serious Crimes of Today Requires a Team Dedicated to Knowing the Problems of Today By Bill Hayes, Licking County Prosecutor

Posted on: January 31st, 2018 by

Prosecuting The Serious Crimes of Today Requires a Team Dedicated to Knowing the Problems of Today

By Bill Hayes, Licking County Prosecutor

As Licking County’s Prosecutor, I’m glad to share with you some of the work and activities of the five (5) Divisions of the Prosecutor’s Office that render service to the citizens of Licking county.  The Civil Division headed by Carolyn Carnes is responsible for representing all of the county’s elected officials, boards, and commissions.  This Division also represents and protects the county’s interest in litigation matters, including foreclosure and other actions.  In 2017, one of the matters we were involved in was filing a foreclosure action on the Longaberger property (The Basket).  We recognize the insight of our County Treasurer, Olivia Parkinson, for her recommendation that the foreclosure proceedings be initiated and her support during the course of this action.  Although the property sold at private sale, we believe the potential of an approaching foreclosure auction of the property encouraged what finally resulted in the sale of The Basket and the payment of over $800,000.

in delinquent taxes from the proceeds. The Juvenile Division headed by Jenny Gonzalez is responsible for protecting children who are at risk and prosecuting youngsters who have violated the law.   During 2017 there was a tremendous rise in the number of cases where children were removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect on the part of their parents or custodians. In most instances, the use of drugs by the adults charged with the care of the children was the cause of the intervention.   By year end, we had prosecuted approximately 50% more cases of this type than we had in 2016.  Over 500 kids were in protective care by the end of 2017.   This increase in case load created a significant burden on the staffs of Job and Family Services, the Juvenile Court, the Juvenile Probation Department, Law Enforcement, and our office.  The financial impact on the county to place the children in foster care or other safe locations was and continues to be very significant.

The Felony Division saw a significant increase in case load during 2017, primarily due to the drug epidemic. The Licking County Grand Jury issued 975 indictments during the year.  The Felony Division works with the thirteen (13) different Law Enforcement agencies across Licking county, reviewing charges brought to the office for consideration of felony charges.  During 2017 a significant effort was made to charge and convict those individuals who sold or provided dangerous drugs to persons who overdosed and died.  These are difficult cases to prove and require outstanding work on the part of law enforcement.  The Licking County community is fortunate to have the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement task force whose officers are passionate about seeking justice against those who are involved in the drug culture in our community.  The Victim’s Advocate Division headed by Mark Weiner provides support to victims and their families who have been impacted by criminal activity.  A tremendous work is done by Mark and those who assist him by keeping victims connected and informed about the legal process, directing them to appropriate services and giving them encouragement and support. The Chaplains Division was established in January 2017.  We believe it is the only Chaplain Division in any Prosecutor’s office in Ohio.   Headed by Cliff Biggers, former Newark Police Detective, this Division is responsible for providing support when requested by those effected by the activities in which the Prosecutor’s office may be involved.  Chaplain Biggers has recruited 7 Associate Chaplains to date, with the goal to reach 12 in number in 2018, so that each law enforcement agency in the county will have a chaplain available to them if and when needed.   The chaplains also assist Mark Weiner with the work of the Victim’s Advocacy Division when called upon.  For example, when the Kirkersville shooting incident occurred in May 2017, two chaplains were at the scene in Kirkersville, one was at Licking Memorial with the family of one of the victims, another was at the 911 center to be available as needed by the 911 dispatchers involved in the incident.   Having a large group of persons willing to serve as Chaplain readies us to meet the needs of those who seek assistance, whether it be in a case involving a large number of folks, or a situation where just one person needs help.   Our team of Associate Chaplains are very committed to the work we’ve called on them to do.  They are volunteers and receive no compensation other than the pleasure of serving.


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