EXCLUSIVE: Trumbull County Sheriff brings new direction to depar - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

EXCLUSIVE: Trumbull County Sheriff brings new direction to department

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WARREN, Ohio -

Trumbull County's sheriff is reflecting on his first year on the job.

It was a busy year that Sheriff Paul Monroe says included bringing the department some much needed direction, leadership and a new approach when handling the opioid epidemic.

"You'll find that our officers, our deputies here are very compassionate, yet they've got a job to do," Monroe said.

In a county where the epidemic was at times overwhelming in 2017, Monroe says his deputies are not addiction treatment professionals, instead they're working to arrest drug offenders and dealers who are fueling the problem.

"Absolutely it's a different approach," he said. "I am law enforcement through and through, we're attacking the problem, we are investigating it, we're arresting offenders and putting them in jail."

Paying to house the influx of individuals arrested in the jail is becoming costly. More inmates means higher bills and medical expenses. On average the jail holds about 300 inmates, but often that number can be much higher.

It's a concern he's addressed with Trumbull County Commissioners when presenting budget requests for 2018 that have yet to be decided on.

The sheriff's office must also pay the medical bills and security expenses for inmates who overdose on drugs smuggled into their cells.

Last year, three inmates overdosed in the jail just 10 days after new body scanners were installed.

Monroe says those new tools are helping, but admits the scanners come with a learning curve they're still working on.

"The amount of heroin that's smuggled sometimes can be very small, the size of a pearl or even smaller, so those things do slip by occasionally," Monroe said.

Before purchasing the scanners with the help of the county court budget, Monroe says his department contacted Franklin, Clermont and Mahoning county jails to learn about the use of the scanners and the trends those counties were seeing with sneaking drugs behind bars.

In a climate of stagnant government funding, Monroe says they're creating new fees to generate new revenue in a balancing act to achieve his goals to have a stronger impact in the community. 

Monroe also brought in new administrators to implement his agenda and create a new sense of morale among all of the deputies and correctional officers.

"The sheriff has a vision, we talked about that vision, discussed it amongst ourselves and now we just go about implementing it," Joe Dragovich said, chief deputy of the Trumbull County Sheriff's office.

Dragovich brings his experience from working with the Ohio State Highway Patrol to his role. Monroe says all of his new administrators have skills and expertise that will benefit the department with enforcement, security and investigations.

Be sure to join WFMJ Weekend Today Sunday morning for more topics from Lindsay McCoy's exclusive interview with Sheriff Monroe.

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