What is the Canton FBI Safe Streets Task Force?

What is the Canton FBI Safe Streets Task Force?

Table of Contents

What is the Canton FBI Safe Streets Task Force?

The state of Ohio reports upwards of 30,000 violent crimes per year. A large majority of that is attributed to organized gangs. The Canton FBI Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF) ‘s primary focus is to reduce that number by dismantling gangs by disrupting their power structure. The Canton Branch is one of many violent gang task forces commissioned by the FBI. They maintain offices in 40 states and have 160 locations nationwide.1 The main three objectives of the Canton SSTF are as follows:2
  • Prosecuting Gangs
  • Apprehension of violent criminals
  • Investigating violent crimes

How Does It Achieve Its Goals?

Canton SSTF achieves its goal by using the Enterprise theory of investigation (ETI) model for investigations. Enterprise theory of investigation is a cohesive network combining FBI strategies and techniques with street-level knowledge, offenses, and monitoring. Essentially, they create a case against a gang based on comparatively smaller crimes. For example, monitoring assaults, unlicensed guns, racketeering, and drug trafficking and then prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law.3

Donte Stewart, head of Arrow Passage Recovery, knows all too well what drugs can do to a community. He says the Canton SSTF helps, “They do a tremendous job, and you can’t commend them enough.” Currently, Ohio is in the top five states with leading overdose rates. Arrow Passage Recovery offers individualized treatment and a supportive community to address substance use disorders.

When Was the Safe Streets Task Force Created?

The FBI created the safe streets task force in January 1992. The Canton Safe Streets Task Force utilizes multiple law agencies, including local, federal, and state. Before the ideology was put forth by creating SSTF, there were strict barriers between the agencies. These barriers reduced communication, causing facts and other vital information relating to a case to be restricted from local law enforcement.4

The Drug Problems in Eastern Ohio

In 2016, a now-iconic photo was taken by East Ohio officer Fred Flati. The picture showed two adults in a minivan experiencing an overdose while their school-age child sat in the back seat. The image is thought to capture the essence of the drug use problems in East Liverpool, Ohio. One of the main reasons drug use is prevalent in Ohio is due to access to drugs. Secondly, there are still not enough addiction treatment options in Ohio. At the time the photo was taken, there were no long-term treatment facilities in East Liverpool.5

Drug Use Rates

Here are the hard numbers about drug use in Ohio:6

  • In 2016, over 570 million dollars went to Neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS in Ohio
  • NAS refers to a baby being born with substances in its system
  • In 2017 there over 38,000 new HIV cases contracted through intravenous drug use in Ohio
  • There were over 44,000 new instances of Hepatitis C in Ohio in 2017

On average, 1,000 Ohioans are diagnosed with HIV each year.

Overdose Deaths

  • In 2019, there were over 4,000 drug overdoses in Ohio
  • 591 overdoses were attributed to prescription opioids
  • From 2007-2019 overdoses were the leading cause of death
  • In 2014, Ohio’s Franklin County reported a 227% overdose increase from 2003
  • Approximately 46% of deaths from psychostimulants surpassed heroin-related overdoses

In 2019, more than 4,000 drug overdoses happened in Ohio.

Top Drugs Abused

Far and above, Fentanyl is the number 1 cause of overdoses in Ohio. It contributes to 76% of all overdoses in the state. Fentanyl is followed by heroin, cocaine, and meth. Fentanyl alternative, Carfentanil, is also dangerous for its similar effects.7

Impacts From the Task Force

Drug Busts

To date, one of the biggest busts attributed to the Canton SSTF occurred in 2020. The SSTF arrested 24 individuals with a connection to a large drug trafficking ring. The 24 gang members conspired to sell vast amounts of Fentanyl and crack. All 24 individuals spoke in coded texts and operated out of numerous drug houses. Some members received harsher sentences due to their prior records and firearms found at the scene.8

In 2013, after a 13-month investigation, SSTF caught 20 suspects using similar methods. The defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin. Also, in 2012 SSTF conducted a 3-day operation that resulted in multiple arrests and several charges being bought against 87 individuals. True to the cohesive nature of SSTF, the operation included joint help from the DEA, ATF, and the US Marshalls, to name a few.9

Educational Efforts

The FBI produces several drug education departments, including Gang Resistance Education And Training, National Youth Gang Center, and the Gang Reduction Program. These programs aim to prevent gangs and gang mentality from perpetuating. They also serve to paint a more honest picture of drug use. These programs help reduce future drug use among the population.10

Honors Received

In the world of law enforcement and drug busts, it can be tricky to come across a feel-good story. However, in 2020, the FBI honored SSTF K-9 Officer Cash after his seven-year career as a drug-sniffing canine. Officer Cash helped discover hundreds of pounds of various drugs and over 740 thousand dollars in drug money in his career. Thanks in part to Cash’s contribution, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine awarded the SSTF 2 million in funding to continue their operations.11

Arrow Passage Recovery Treatment Program

Individualized Treatment

Arrow Passage’s treatment program is centered around helping with recovery from the disease of addiction. It does this by respecting that every person is different in their needs and goals towards recovery. More importantly, there’s no one size fits all approach to treating a substance use disorder. The president of Arrow Passage, Donte Stewart, says they want to create effective treatment plans, “There’s no one treatment plan, and we try to incorporate everything available when creating a client’s plan.”12

Knowing The Community

There’s a profound connection between community and addiction recovery. Donte Stewart had this to say about the Arrow Passage headquarters, “Massillon, Ohio is a great place. It helps our treatment plans that we know what makes Massillon – Massillon.”

Donte was born and raised in Massillon. As a midwesterner, Donte has a connection to the culture and way of life there. It should come as no surprise that Ohio is where Arrow Passage does most of its work. Arrow Passage remains dedicated to individualized treatment practices and working with many communities to bring the rate of drug abuse down in the years to come.13

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