In his July 18 column, Mr. Westerhold criticized the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) for not doing something that BCI, by law, is not permitted to do.
Mr. Westerhold says BCI should have unearthed corruption in Cuyahoga County over the past several years. But Ohio law does not permit BCI to initiate investigations into any matter unless specifically requested to do so by local law enforcement officials or by the governor. The legislature has barred such action in order to prevent the growth of a state police force, which has never been favored in Ohio. When BCI did receive such formal requests from the governor and local officials last year to investigate potential irregularities in real estate appraisals connected to the ongoing federal corruption investigation in Cuyahoga County, we immediately got involved, and our continuing investigation will help address and resolve those issues.
Additionally, Mr. Westerhold characterizes BCI's work inaccurately, ignoring the fact that in the past year the state crime labs have significantly reduced the number of pending cases. Tests are now typically completed within 45 days of being sent to the labs, which meets or exceeds generally accepted national standards. In a 2009 survey completed by Wright State University, 1,001 law enforcement officials were surveyed and 96 percent reported they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with BCI's communications on pending cases.
We are all ears about ways to improve our performance. BCI staffers are well trained and highly professional; they work hard to serve local law enforcement; and they do not deserve the unfounded criticism levied by Mr. Westerhold in his column.
Ohio Attorney General
Editor's note: The state's Organized Crime Task Force works out of the Ohio Attorney General's Office and has the full investigatory and subpoena powers of a peace officer in Ohio.