SIDNEY — Patrol car after patrol car left the parking lot of the Sidney Police Department Thursday afternoon.
Their mission? To find 29 individuals who had been indicted earlier in the day by a Shelby County grand jury on various felony drug offenses. The arrest warrants were for 84 counts drug offenses of mainly trafficking and possession charges.
“We’ve had 128 overdoses on heroin this year,” said Sidney Police Chief Will Balling to the officers who were preparing to hit the streets in search of those who had been indicted. “We are seeing a lot more meth in the city. There’s a lot of needles out there, so be safe while you’re out there.”
Balling said the investigations which led to the indictments started with tips from citizens and information gathered by officers while on duty.
“Hopefully you’ll be able to meet and greet many of them this afternoon,” said Balling.
Detectives Aaron Wesbecker and Kevin Macke led the briefing, which included Sidney Police officers and support personnel and troopers from the Ohio Highway Patrol.
“Be mindful of the needles,” said Wesbecker. “We don’t want anyone to get stuck. All of our cases are solid on these people.”
The officers and troopers were divided into three teams with each assigned specific people to find and arrest. Each team received a packet with the individual’s name, address and photo.
“If the person is in a vehicle when you find them,” call someone with a K-9,” said Wesbecker.
Patrol officers were dispatched to each location when an arrest was made. They transported the person to the Shelby County Jail.
There were seven troopers from the OHP assisting with the sweep. Two troopers were from the Piqua Post. The other five, said Balling, are part of a special response team.
“These troopers are from all over,” said Balling. “They do search warrants and high risk search warrants. They were pulled off the street (regular patrol) to be a member of this team. They train for it all year long.”
The OHP, said Balling, is always willing to send troopers to assist other departments.
After the briefing, officers loaded up their vehicles, donned bullet-proof vests and prepared to search the city to serve the arrest warrants. A K-9 in one of the vehicles voiced his readiness for the action to begin.
“Coordinating and getting everyone out of the parking lot is unique,” said Balling. “Safety is our No. 1 concern. These arrests are because of tips from local citizens and the hard work of our officers. Now we just want to make sure no one gets hurt.”
At their first stop, one team arrested Paul Rafferty, 64, 306 N. West Ave. He has been charged with three counts of trafficking in heroin.
The second stop, which included knocking on doors on two houses next to one another, didn’t yield any arrests. One resident, after seeing the officers at the door, told them him lived there and didn’t know the person they were looking for.
Arrested during the roundup were Milford Browning, age 33, 981 N. Wagner; Deanna Browning, age 41, 981 N. Wagner; Cameron Wilkins, age 22, 824 Park St., Apt A; Brandon Swan, age 30, 824 Park St., Apt A; Kari Howard, age 31, 331 Jefferson St.; Paul Rafferty, age 64, 306 N. West Ave.; Kenny Henderson, age 27, 315 Charles St.; Rayshawn Habari, age 39, 1390 Campbell Road; Tim Sapp, age 28, at large; and Jacob Lewis, age 27, 128 1/2 N. Pomeroy.
Others charged who were already incarcerated were Natalie Slife, Colin Sharp, Taidge Ritter and Kayla Snyder.
Balling said officers realize that once they start knocking on doors, the word will spread throughout the city that arrests are being made.
“Within the first 20 minutes, the word will have spread,” said Balling. “We used to take the cell phones off the people who were arrested. They were blown up with text messages that people were being arrested.”
Sometimes harder to locate the people, said Balling, because they communicate back and forth. And because many of the people don’t have permanent addresses, they can also be harder to find.
“If we can’t find someone, we put it on Facebook, on TV or in the newspaper, we’ll get tips on where they are,” said Balling.
Thursday’s indictments were the result of several undercover operations, said Balling, which have been going on during the past several months.
“Sometimes it takes six to eight months to cultivate the case,” he said.
“Today’s operation is made possible because of the dedicated work of the Sidney Police Department and more importantly because the people of this community care about the drug epidemic and are willing to get involved and provide information about suspected drug issues in their neighborhoods. Drug investigations of this type are rarely immediate and move at a slow pace but they are effectual,” said Capt. Jerry Tangeman.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.