The Grand Lake Task Force was formed by area law enforcement with the help of a Federal Grant in 1991. The problem facing all law enforcement is that crime and drug activity is not bound by jurisdictional limitations. With law enforcement's work load ever increasing investigations like drug cases are put on hold since they generally do not have a complainant or victim so to speak. Auglaize and Mercer counties share major thorough fares and the law enforcement problems that go along with major highways. Since both counties are predominately rural we are extremely susceptible to an influx of illicit drug traffickers and other criminals from the surrounding cities, Lima, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton and Fort Wayne.
In 1990 a grant was applied for through the Bryne Memorial Grant. The grant was a 75% federal money and 25% local money. Sheriff Longsworth, Sheriff Eichar, Prosecuting Attorney Mark Spees and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Meyers agreed to fund the local share. In late 1991 we were awarded the grant for $46,000.00. This money did not include any money for salaries. The Grant runs from October 1st of one year to September 30th of the next year.
The objectives for the multi-agency investigative unit was to 1. Increase multi-jurisdictional cooperation, 2. Increase the number of persons arrested and prosecuted for Drug trafficking and other major crimes, 3. Increase the amount of criminal assets forfeited.
A controlling board was established to govern the Task Force. The board was made up of Sheriffs, Prosecutors and Chiefs of police. Today the board is made up of Sheriff Allen F. Solomon, Sheriff Jeff Grey, Prosecuting Attorney Ed Pierce, Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Hinders, Chief Kerry Roode, Chief Slusser, Chief Doug Harrod, Chief Donald Bergman and Chief Gery Thobe. Sheriff Solomon agreed to be the lead agency for the grant.
The following personal were assigned to the unit in 1991. Steve Stienecker, Unit Commander - Auglaize County, Matt Grunden - Mercer County, Mark Ernst - St. Marys, Calvin Freeman and Kelly Richards - Celina, Dennis Golden - Wapakoneta, Don Bergman - Minster, Brad Pyles - New Bremen, and Doug Springer - Coldwater. Other Officers that have served the Task Force are as follows: Gery Thobe, Barry Niekamp, and Michelle Miner, Jay Wehrkamp, Mark Heinl from Mercer County Sheriff. Tim Knoth from Celina Police. Shawn Vondrell from Coldwater Police. Today the Task Force is made up of two full time Deputies and 4 part time Police officers serving one or two days a week.