Erie County Sheriff Terry Lyons has taken a step forward with the introduction of a new six-page policy detailing how deputies are to serve arrest warrants and requiring they document the efforts. The new policy also puts priorities on arrest warrants issued for more violent crimes and sets out to get warrants served within 24 hours after being issued.
The old policy, if you can call it that, was a one-paragraph guide on how to serve warrants at the Ohio Veterans Home.
Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Sigsworth said the new document provides a written blueprint for practices deputies already had been employing. That’s all well and good, although there is no apparent evidence of that since deputies were not required previously to document their efforts. There also is a backlog of more than 600 outstanding warrants, some of them dating back years, which points to serious problems with old practices.
The backlog of warrants became an issue after a Huron woman grew frustrated that deputies had not served a warrant against a California man accused of repeatedly raping her 6-year-old daughter. Weeks after the suspect had been indicted, there was no documentation deputies ever tried to locate or arrest him. Unable to get any satisfactory answers from county officials, the woman’s family contacted the U.S. Marshal’s Office, which quickly located and apprehended the child rape suspect.
Regardless of past problems within the Sheriff’s Office, crime victims and potential crime victims — meaning all of us — should be pleased a written policy has been set that will hold deputies accountable. The new policy was announced shortly after Lyons also agreed to engage the services of the U.S. Marshal’s Office in apprehending criminal suspects when appropriate.
One rape suspect who was indicted years ago already has been arrested with assistance from the U.S. Marshal’s Office since the new policy was enacted, and Sigsworth said progress also has been made toward arresting another rape suspect whose warrant was among the dated indictments.
We applaud Lyons for moving in the right direction, and we encourage him to identify and reform other practices that might not be working.