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Task force aims to fix issues with arrest warrants

Posted at 6:11 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 18:21:32-05

CLEVELAND — News 5 cameras were the rolling as The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force arrested a 19-year-old Shane Barker Tuesday. He is a suspect in two separate kidnapping incidents at the MetroParks.

In October, Barker allegedly attacked a 61-year-old woman near the Meadow Ridge Picnic area in the Brookside Reservation. Three days later, he’s accused of attacking a 41-year-old woman in the same location.

Police said in both instances Barker followed the victims along a hiking trail, attacked them, and threw them both to the ground. Both women were able to escape.

It is estimated there are a half million unserved warrants here in Ohio, many of them are for violent crimes, which creates a safety issue for police and the public.

Now, a task force convened by Governor Mike DeWine is moving forward to fix the problems with the warrant system. The U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force is laser focused on finding the most dangerous fugitives, everyday teams of task force members fan out in counties across Northeast Ohio armed with arrest warrants.

Those warrants are being targeted by a task force in Columbus.

DeWine created The Governor’s Task Force on Arrest Warrants last February because of problems issuing, serving and recalling warrants.

“These folks are out there, and they are a danger to law enforcement, victims and the public at large,” said Andy Wilson, Senior Advisor for Criminal Justice Policy.

The task force is made up of 29 members from across the state including Assistant Chief of the U.S. Marshals Brian Fitzgibbon. “There is a high recidivism rate for people who commit violent crimes, it’s a fact. This is a reason why you want warrants entered, to get them of the streets,” said Fitzgibbon.

The group made more than a dozen recommendations for improving, prioritizing, and serving arrest warrants throughout the state.

One recommendation is that law enforcement be mandated to enter warrants for Tier One offenses, which are felonies, and some misdemeanors, into both Ohio’s Law Enforcement Data System and the National Crime Information Center.

It’s estimated there are a half million warrants in the state of Ohio that have never been entered into a state or federal database.

The task force also recommended an electronic warrant system.

“One of the ones we are working very hard on is the e-warrants and protection order system,” said Karen Huey, Assistant Director of Ohio Public Safety.

RELATED: U.S. Marshals: Man who attacked 2 women in Cleveland Metroparks last year arrested