Monday, May 21, 2012

It Is Coming Along! !!!!

Council joins homicide task force


May 20, 2012
By KEVIN HOWELL , Salem News
LEETONIA- Village Council Wednesday approved participation in the newly formed Columbiana County Homicide Task Force.
Council signed a mutual aid agreement with the organization to provide a police detective for homicide investigations outside the department's jurisdiction.
Police Chief John Soldano said after the meeting that he is pleased with council for its willingness to participate in what he called a "major step in law enforcement in the county."
"This is such an important situation for the county," he said. "It's going to have all the (participating) agencies working together when there is a homicide."
Drafted by county Prosecutor Robert Herron, the mutual aid agreement had been discussed for several years, but was brought to the forefront when last August Belinda Puchajda, founder of the county's Families of Homicide Victims requested $5,000 seed money to start a task force.
"Her efforts really need recognized because she has spearheaded this whole thing," Soldano said.
He also praised Sheriff Ray Stone and the sheriff's office, the first agency to join the task force after what Soldano said he viewed as reluctance at first.
Citing a Salem News article published after Puchajda's visit, Soldano said he felt Stone had "failed to respond" at the time, but is grateful that the office is taking an early and active role in the task force. Requests for assistance from the task force would go through the office, which would contact member departments to determine if they had any investigators available to provide assistance.
"I'm so grateful that so many departments in the county are joining the task force and that the sheriff has had a change in thought process," he said.
As part of the agreement, the Leetonia Police Department will provide a detective for homicide investigations in the county and will incur the wages of that detective's participation in the investigation.
Soldano said he hopes to see the task force activated by next month.
Kevin Howell can be reached at

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