State police plan more work with local forces
STONINGTON - Local police are teaming up with state police in patrolling roadways in search of drunken, impaired or underage drivers and illegal drug activity.
Sgt. Shawn Toboz, commanding officer at the state police station at Stonington, met with local police chiefs and officers last week to discuss the importance of cooperation between all law enforcement agencies in combating crime.
"Getting together with municipal police was something I wanted to do to foster cooperation among the different departments in the area," Toboz said. "We plan on saturating certain areas of the county on different dates. We deployed with Sunbury police Friday night and that led to several arrests for narcotics, DUI and underage drinking. We plan to deploy with Shamokin police next month."
Police in Shamokin, Coal Township, Mount Carmel Township, Mount Carmel, Kulpmont, Ralpho Township, Zerbe Township and Sunbury will join state police in targeting enforcement efforts on municipal and state roads and will work together on various investigations.
A recent traffic stop by Cpl. George Ritchey of state police at Stonington at North Shamokin and Race streets in Shamokin led to the discovery of $3,775 in drugs and $1,035 in cash.
Jeremy John Rickert, 20, of Shamokin, was found in possession of 116 bags of heroin, 55 Perocet pills (a prescription pain reliever), 9.5 grams of marijuana and cash after being pulled over by Ritchey for driving with an expired inspection sticker at 5:20 p.m. Easter Sunday, according to police.
Upon approaching Rickert's vehicle, Ritchey said the driver accelerated across the intersection and drove head-on into a utility pole. He was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence and additional charges are pending against him.
That incident illustrates the type of assistance troopers can provide to local police.
"Teaming up with state police will give us more manpower and flexibility on the streets of the city," said Shamokin Police Chief Edward Griffiths, who attended last week's meeting with state police. "It's always good to have cooperation with state police. They will not only assist us in looking for aggressive drivers, but also help us with other investigations, including drug activity."
Mount Carmel Police Chief Todd Owens, who has worked with state police for many years in narcotic investigations as a member of the Northumberland-Montour Drug Task Force, appreciates the support his department has received.
"We've had a very good working relationship with Sgt. Toboz and other station commanders over the years," he said. "Their extra police presence in the borough will definitely help us."
Owens said his department has conducted many joint investigations with state police.
"Their drug recognition experts have helped us tremendously over the years," he said. "We don't have the resources for the training involved in becoming drug recognition experts and that's why we often reach out to them for help. We utilize their resources and they utilize our resources. That's what cooperation is all about."
"I think it's a great idea to work together more often with state police," said Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Brian Hollenbush. "It shows that state police have a good working relationship with municipal police departments. State police have extra resources that are paramount to helping local police departments."
Hollenbush said receiving assistance from state police in targeting aggressive drivers will be a huge help to his officers who patrol many highway miles in the township.
"We welcome any type of coordinated efforts between local and state police. It certainly benefits us to be able to provide more manpower in certain areas of the township," said Coal Township Police Chief William Carpenter.