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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > September 2013 > Organized Crime Not Unique to Big Cities

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Organized Crime Not Unique to Big Cities

What do you think when you hear the words “organized crime”? Maybe gangsters, big cities, drug rings, or a large crime family? Do you think of a small Ohio town?

Smaller communities throughout Ohio are seeing a fair share of organized crime. And as Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff — a member of the Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) — points out, organized crime is much more than a godfather-type organization.
“Human trafficking, drug dealing, financial scams, retail theft operations, and large theft operations are just a small number of criminal issues that can be classified as organized crime,” Kruithoff said.
Under Ohio law, organized criminal activity is defined as engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, including conspiracy. These types of crime can hit small towns just as easily as big cities — it just may be harder to detect.
“Because every investigation is unique, OOCIC can tailor its support to each case or task force,” OOCIC Executive Director Rocky Nelson said. “OOCIC assists local law enforcement in three main areas: technical, administrative, and prosecution, and we can bring local, state, and federal agencies together to combat crime in any size jurisdiction.”
Jurisdictional boundaries don’t matter to criminals. In a large city, police may be dealing with a retail theft group that may hit several locations around town in a day. An agency may be able to quickly identify and address this type of fast-moving organized crime problem. Outside a big city, this same crime group could hit several malls in a 15-mile radius spanning several communities, counties, or suburbs.
“In a smaller agency, it is imperative that we work together with our neighbors to alert them of potential problems heading their way,” Kruithoff said, stressing the need for good communications across jurisdictional lines.
Technology certainly makes it easier to communicate among agencies. For example, in the Dayton area, any officer is able to place an alert through the Tactical Crime Suppression Unit within moments of a crime. “That alert will go throughout the Miami Valley region to ensure the activities of a roaming group of criminals is shared among all other agencies,” Kruithoff said. However, “integrating the use of (real-time) technology into the information-sharing process is a large challenge for small agencies due to cost and manpower shortages.”
In a slow-moving organized crime, such as a drug-trafficking operation, the criminal players take time to plan activities. Drug traffickers will come into the state and travel thought large cities, small towns, and rural communities. These crime rings build distribution networks, transportation routes, and manufacturing or growing headquarters.
“The operation moves seamlessly across jurisdictional lines, and intelligence efforts can become fractured among the different police agencies involved,” Kruithoff said.
When small communities are faced with this kind of criminal activity, OOCIC can create a task force as a resource.
“These task forces eliminate many jurisdictional issues about law enforcing authority and also provide a number of support systems to attack an organized crime activity that spans a large geographical area,” Kruithoff said.
For more information: Agencies interested in more information on OOCIC can visit or call 614-277-1000. In addition, the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy offers several courses related to organized crime, including Investigative Resources, Drug Identification and Field Testing, Internet Investigation, and Human Trafficking. For more information, visit the online course catalog at
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Jennifer Adair
Senior Assistant Attorney General
Deputy General Counsel for Law Enforcement Initiatives