Highlights: Attorney General Dave Yost’s Priorities

Highlights: Attorney General Dave Yost’s Priorities

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost came into office on Jan. 14, 2019, promising to take on opioids, public corruption and powerful companies trying to bend customers to their will. Those causes have been among Yost’s priorities during his first term in the Attorney General’s Office, where his 1,465-person team also fights crime, helps victims, and represents the state as well as public agencies.

The following are some highlights of AG Yost’s priorities — all of which, at their base, ensure safety and quality of life for Ohioans of every stripe and means.

Protecting the Unprotected

“Protecting the Unprotected” is a common mantra of the Yost administration, a sentiment that covers the vast range of services provided by the office – from putting away criminals to safeguarding consumers. Likewise, it reflects the attorney general’s commitment to justice, opportunity and equal treatment under the law, regardless of a person’s hometown, race, religion, political party, occupation or wealth. Some highlights:

Facing Down Opioid Addiction

Ohio continues to suffer through the opioid crisis, and Attorney General Yost is focused on fighting addiction at its source. He rolled out the Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention & Education (SCOPE), a science-based push to reduce the number of Ohioans who succumb to substance use disorder. Related initiatives include a genetic study of emergency room patients. (For more, see the 2019 highlights report, Pages 6-7.)

Simultaneously, Yost’s office is working to recover money from the companies whose greed drove the opioid crisis. Payments resulting from lawsuits can help ease the burden for overwhelmed communities. A historic settlement requires the three biggest opioid distributors to pay Ohio more than $808 million.

Learn more:

Fighting Human Trafficking

Attorney General Yost created the Human Trafficking Initiative to end labor and sex trafficking in Ohio. The initiative (Pages 4-5) builds awareness, empowers Ohioans to take action in their communities, strengthens victim services throughout the state, and ensures that traffickers and “johns” are brought to justice. A new annual Human Trafficking Summit brings together stakeholders and people who can make a difference in the fight, and increased emphasis from the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission results in special operations that target those creating demand for trafficking.

Learn more:

Protecting Children at School

Attorney General Yost created the Ohio School Threat Assessment Training program to guide schools, law enforcement and mental-health experts on how to join forces to get help for troubled students before they turn to violence. The video training, which came online in February 2020, combines best practices from leading safety experts, including the U.S. Secret Service, and helps to fulfill requirements, passed into Ohio law in December 2020, that schools serving grades 6-12 create threat assessment teams.

Learn more in this article: Preventing violence: New program will train police officers, schools to assess threats

Building Trust in Law Enforcement

The Attorney General’s Office considers its mission to build trust between law enforcement and local communities to be a sacred duty. Two main elements go into it: improving how peace officers throughout the state do their jobs, mainly via the AGO divisions that work with law enforcement, and providing transparency so that citizens know what is going on and why things happen the way they do. Some highlights:

Improving Police-Community Relations

Good policing is absolutely necessary to keep society functioning fairly and safely, and that security is what the vast majority of law enforcement officers provide to Ohioans.

To improve accountability and fairness, root out bad actors and help build trust in the institution, AG Yost and Gov. Mike DeWine proposed multiple reforms, including licensing officers, providing better training and mandating third-party investigations of police shootings (2020 highlights report, Pages 6-7).

In order to build trust, Ohio residents need to understand what police do, how they do it and why they do it. Thus, transparency is a must, and the Attorney General’s Office is committed to sharing details from investigations of critical incidents that it investigates. In high profile cases, the office will issue notice at important steps in investigations (for example: “BCI Investigation of Officer-Involved Shooting at Hospital Submitted to Prosecutor”), and when investigations are completed, details will be posted on a new webpage.

Learn more:

Assisting Law Enforcement

Attorney General Yost and his office take seriously a commitment to constantly upgrade the way it teaches, assists and honors law enforcement officers throughout the state. The support, including the work of BCI and its crime lab and OOCIC and its task forces, begins with the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and Academy, which oversees basic training for would-be officers as well as advanced training for current officers.


  • The organization has undergone a top-to-bottom overhaul to emphasize officer training that is closer to home; partnerships with experienced, current teachers; and the classes OPOTA teaches best, including driving courses on its track in London. Read more here.
  • Also, in 2021, OPOTA introduced a significant overhaul of its online training platform, focusing on user-friendly formats and flexible learning. Read more here.
  • Visit the website
  • Read the palm card


The Bureau of Criminal Investigation is the state’s official crime lab, serving the criminal justice community and offering expert criminal investigative services to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The bureau has three major missions: providing laboratory services, record-keeping and aiding investigations. For more details, see the below section “Continually Improving BCI” or click here.


The Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission assists local law enforcement agencies in combatting pervasive organized crime — drug dealing and human trafficking, for example — through the creation of task forces composed of law enforcement officers and justice officials. The task forces receive wider jurisdiction and subpoena powers as well as operational help, funding and commission oversight.

Special Prosecutions

The Special Prosecutions Section seeks to offer prosecutors statewide the support and resources they need to consistently excel in their work.

Upon the request of a local authority, AGO attorneys can serve as lead prosecutors in cases in which a conflict of interest exists. Also, local prosecutors can call upon those in the section to serve as assistant prosecutors in cases that require specialized knowledge or greater resources.

Visit the website.

Continually Improving BCI

A key division of the Attorney General’s Office, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) helps local law enforcement agencies investigate crime, serves as the state crime lab and collects criminal records from throughout Ohio, creating a repository that powers background checks and the criminal histories the justice system relies on.

The bureau constantly seeks to improve its services by developing and investing in new technology and other enhancements, and Attorney General Yost has made it a priority to ensure that BCI has up-to-date tools to fulfill its critical roles.


BCI has prioritized investigations that pull from across the bureau’s many areas of expertise to better help local law enforcement agencies get the answers they and their communities need.

  • Cold Case Unit: This new team – a collaborative effort among BCI investigators, criminal analysts and forensic scientists – helps local law enforcement agencies take a fresh look at unsolved homicides and sexual assaults.
  • Officer-Involved Critical Response Team: As Attorney General Yost has emphasized the importance of independent investigations of police-involved shootings, he has promoted this unit as the gold standard. Although not a new effort, the unit is fielding more work and attention, and more law enforcement agencies are signing memorandums of understanding to have BCI investigate all of their future critical incidents.
  • Special Victims Unit: This new unit has brought smaller, specialized units together under its umbrella to more efficiently seek justice for victims of vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, those with special needs and those trapped in human trafficking.


BCI’s Laboratory Division has seven units in distinct disciplines focused on providing the best in forensic analysis, making innovation a way of life. Recent advancements have included:

  • Introducing new DNA testing: Massively Parallel Sequencing and Mitochondrial (mtDNA) testing.
  • Initiating Project SEND and Project SAK, which reach out to local law enforcement agencies to help solve cold-case sexual assaults.
  • Developing a method to quantify THC in marijuana to prove whether it is the illegal variety or hemp, which was legalized in 2019. Read more in the 2020 Highlights report (Page 17).
  • Investing in portable drug-analysis devices that identify well-known drugs, such as fentanyl and carfentanil, and provide faster results in the field.

Criminal Records & Tools for Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officers throughout Ohio rely on systems run by BCI to identify suspects, warn officers if they are pulling over a dangerous felon, access a statewide sharing network, consult school safety plans and much more. Two underwent big upgrades in 2020-21:

  • A significant upgrade of the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) offers improved tools, such as a platform that provides incident reporting, a complete case management system and other options that local agencies had long been requesting. Read more about OHLEG here.
  • A $25 million upgrade to the Ohio Biometric Identification System (OBIS) adds efficiencies and power. The result is more rapid retrieval of data from the system, which is 6 million records strong, and faster identification of suspects. Read more about the Identification Division here.

Taking on the Big Dogs

Because individual Ohioans too often lack the power to right the wrongs that big players and corrupt public officials inflict on them, the Attorney General’s Office stands up to insist (often with court action) on the powerful doing the right thing. Such accountability is integral to building a just society — which Ohioans deserve.

Fighting Corruption

Attorney General Yost firmly believes that Ohioans deserve government that acts in their best interest — not the interest of greedy politicians or people and companies that can afford to pay to get their way. His office has helped to prosecute public corruption cases and forced multiple politicians indicted on criminal charges to leave office, as shown in highlights reports for 2019 (Page 12) and 2020 (Pages 8-9).

Of special interest to AG Yost is House Bill 6, a law that the feds say resulted from a $60 million bribery scheme. The law was designed to bail out FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants and to guarantee profits for the company equal to its most successful year ever. Yost filed two lawsuits that ultimately prevented Ohio consumers from having to pay $2 billion in fees, and he is suing the major players to ensure that they do not profit from the millions paid as bribes. Read more:

Challenging Predatory Monopolies

Google and Facebook, two of the most powerful companies on Earth, have undermined free-market competition on the internet, resulting in fewer privacy protections and fewer options for consumers, Attorney General Yost says. “Bill and Betty Buckeye, I would suggest to you, are not the consumers, but the product these companies are selling,” he said. The Attorney General has partnered with other states to file lawsuits accusing Facebook of illegally acquiring competitors and Google of illegally securing a monopoly over search engines and advertising.

In a landmark lawsuit, he asked a court to declare Google a public utility, reining in the ways the powerful search engine provides search results to Ohioans.

Battling Big Medicine

There is no question that, when it comes to the business of medicine, individual patients have the least control among all the system stakeholders. Attorney General Yost is committed to standing up for patients and standing up to companies that manipulate conditions for their own profit. (For examples, see the 2019 highlights report, Page 8.)

One of Yost’s big fights is holding to account pharmacy benefit managers, private companies that contract with state agencies to manage prescription drugs for those agencies’ clients. Some privacy benefit managers inflated prices or charged for services they didn’t deliver — to the tune of millions of dollars. One big win: In 2021, Centene Corp. agreed to pay Ohio $88.3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by AG Yost.

Learn more from these news releases:

Going to Bat for Consumers

The Attorney General’s Office takes pride in protecting Ohio consumers by going to bat for them, arming them with the information they need to protect themselves and hammering criminals and predatory telemarketers — and their unending robocalls and scams.

Disconnecting Robocallers

After Ohioans were bombarded with an estimated 2.2 billion robocalls in 2019, Attorney General Yost took action to go after every link in the robocall chain. Among other efforts, Yost:

  • Established a special Robocall Enforcement Unit to investigate violators, take aggressive enforcement action and push legislation to expand the state’s authority over robocalls.
  • Created a website to report robocallers.
  • Sued groups that made illegal calls hoping to steal money or valuable information from Ohioans, and companies that supported such groups. Settlements have been agreed to by a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider and a payment processor that billed consumers at robocallers’ behest.
Learn more from these Consumer Advocate newsletter articles:
Building New Tools

To increase transparency for Ohioans and make government work for them, Attorney General Yost has created new tools to help people stay informed and secure reliable information. They are:

  • Ohio Stolen Gun Database: This searchable database lets private citizens and firearms dealers instantly check whether a gun they are considering buying has been reported stolen.
  • Ohio Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System: This online database allows survivors to anonymously track what happens to their sexual assault evidence kits (SAEKs) after they are seen by medical professionals. The system logs when medical centers, law enforcement agencies and public crime labs receive, evaluate and forward the evidence kits to another agency.
  • Consumer Protection Lawsuit Search: Looking to hire a business or contractor? The Attorney General’s Office has compiled lawsuits it filed against those who have violated the state’s consumer laws. The online database can help Ohioans steer clear of bad actors.