The Dayton Daily News reported recently that its analysis finds that authorities say there are too many to go after. They cite budget issues, inconsistencies in tracking and sharing information on warrants, and jail space shortages for the backlog.
There are more than 1 million warrants listed in the National Crime Information Center database. Ohio’s counterpart has more than 35,000, some of which are in both databases.
“There’s just too many,” said Pat Sedoti, U.S. Marshal in charge of three Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Teams (SOFAST). “You have to pick the ones you want to go after.”
The numbers in western Ohio ranged from 51 in Champaign County to 10,309 in Montgomery County.
Among those at large are accused and even convicted drug traffickers, sex offenders, and violent criminals. They include people who skipped bond, couldn’t be found, or are wanted for violating probation or parole terms.
Other than the work of special teams like SOFAST, apprehending fugitives often comes down to tips or luck.
“Otherwise, you just hope they get pulled over, really,” Sedoti said.
But chance encounters can be dangerous for police when they find fugitives desperate to avoid capture.
“There are officer safety risks,” said David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York. “There are a certain number of extremely dangerous people out there.”
Among those on the lam is Enrique Torres, missing for six years after being accused of stabbing to death Kevin Barnhill, 27, of Maineville, a northern Cincinnati suburb.
Barnhill’s parents are still pushing for pursuit of Torres, whom Warren County authorities say was in this country illegally from Mexico.
“We feel our government has let us down,” said Bill Barnhill, Kevin’s father. “We’re taxpaying citizens. We deserve to be protected.”
SOFAST forces were established by Congress in 2000 to help with the problem. The newspaper found some other improvements being made, but there are still too many wanted felons for law enforcement officials to keep up with.