By RYAN DUNN
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has done excellent work for years, but agents “never were in too big a hurry to get it done,” Ohio’s attorney general said Monday.
Mike DeWine told Findlay Rotary Club members he has worked to bring urgency to the state’s crime lab.
Those efforts have produced results, he said.
DeWine reported a significant reduction in the time required by the lab to test rape kits. The average is down from 125 days to about 22, he said.
“What I love about the job is the ability to see a problem and go after it,” DeWine said of the attorney general’s post.
DeWine, a Republican and former U.S. senator, is running for re-election in the Nov. 4 election. He is expected to face David Pepper, a Democrat and former Hamilton County commissioner.
DeWine favorably contrasted his current duties with his prior role as senator. Swift action by the attorney general can lead to real change, he said.
Rape kit investigations, for example, can inform law enforcement about an offender’s identity, exonerate a suspect, or tell two agencies they are looking for the same criminal, DeWine said.
Rape kit results are compared with a national database and have so far led to 90 indictments in Cuyahoga County alone, he said.
“We are running, consistently, a (potential suspect) on one out of every three,” DeWine said.
He described his office as a “big law firm” whose 450 attorneys represent each state agency and university.
“We have lawyers, basically, who are in court every single day in all parts of the state,” he said.
The office under DeWine has also dedicated a unit to address the state’s heroin “epidemic.”
Last year, heroin overdoses killed 950 people in Ohio, DeWine said.
“Heroin is cheap. It’s abundant. It’s everywhere,” he said.
He praised Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman and Prosecutor Mark Miller for their work on the problem.
DeWine said he wants a common-sense approach to enforcing state law, especially with small business owners. His office hosts seminars to reduce simple mistakes, he said.
He recalled his grandmother handling finances for the family’s agricultural business in the 1950s. She would complain to him about the burden of unnecessary regulation.
“Can you imagine if my grandmother was alive today and had to put up with what you all put up with?” DeWine said to laughter. “We try to remember that in this office.”