Trumbull commissioners respond to Ashtabula Co. pulling out of TAG task force

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WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Ashtabula County is not happy with the change of command for the Trumbull-Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force (TAG).

Ashtabula County commissioners sent a letter stating the county is terminating its role in the task force at the end of the month.

Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe announced last week that Tony Villanueva will become TAG’s new commander, replacing Captain Jeff Orr. Monroe said the change was a result of philosophical differences with Orr.

Orr’s last day is May 1, but Ashtabula County commissioners want him to stay in command until their contract is terminated May 31.

Ashtabula County said TAG officials did not know about the press conference Monroe called to announce the change in command and said Monroe doesn’t have the authority to appoint and presumably terminate the commander.

Ashtabula wants Orr to stay in command and while Trumbull County Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa wouldn’t go as far to say that will happen, he believes there could be a favorable resolution.

“I am still confident there can be a resolution here but on our end, Trumbull County’s end, we are focused and committed to the heroin epidemic and opioid epidemic, more enforcement,” he said. “We know we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem.”

Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka said a meeting is set for May 8 and will include the sheriffs of both counties, prosecutors, and police chiefs.

Polivka said the captain of TAG is paid out of the sheriff’s department general fund and that there are two grants to help pay for the operation.

Sheriff Monroe wasn’t available for comment Wednesday. When he announced the changes last week, he said the drug task force needs to change the way it operates. It will now be a joint effort with Niles police, Warren Street Crimes Unit, and the courts.

A representative from TAG said Wednesday they would not be releasing any more information on the matter.

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