DTF director announces run for sheriff’s office in March primary

LISBON — Brian McLaughlin, the director of the Columbiana County Drug Task Force who recently retired from the Sheriff’s Office, filed Friday to run on the Republican ticket for the county sheriff’s position.

“It’s been in my plans a very long time,” McLaughlin said about his decision to run for sheriff. “I look forward to the challenge.”

With the earlier March primary, candidates filing for contested races will need to be done with the elections board by Dec. 18. That is 90 days prior to the Ohio primary election, which is scheduled for March 17, 2020.

McLaughlin is a two-time recipient of the Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award from the County Prosecutor’s Office in both 2019 and 2014.

As of July 2018, McLaughlin said he has been able to obtain more than $1.8 million in grant dollars for the county both at the Drug Task Force and the County Sheriff’s Office. McLaughlin said as sheriff he wants to continue that role, going after the money the county sheriff’s office needs and bring the various county law enforcement organizations together so they can be more effective.

He first served as director on the Columbiana County DTF between 2001 and 2007, after he was appointed to detective sergeant. In 2012 he again was appointed director of the DTF, a position he currently holds. During both stints as director, McLaughlin said the organization has achieved records in breaking cases, indictments and seizures.

In 2005 the DTF was involved with the assistance of Drug Enforcement Administration in a federal wiretap, which led to 50 federal and state indictments. Other cases investigated by the DTF led to stopping drug trafficking rings bringing drugs to the area from Columbus, Cleveland and the Mexican border. The DTF was involved in the Operation Big Oak investigation with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, which led to more than 100 indictments involving fentanyl, heroin and cocaine coming into the county.

Additionally, McLaughlin said he has attended the Drug Unit Commanders Academy at the Drug Enforcement Administration training facility in Quantico, Va., in 2002 and became a member of the Ohio Task Force Commanders Association.

Between his two appointments as director of the county DTF, McLaughlin supervised the Patrol Division of the Sheriff’s Office and was promoted to lieutenant. He became the commander of the Special Response Team.

He also became an instructor for the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in 1998.

McLaughlin is a 1988 graduate of Columbiana High School and a 1990 graduate of the Salem Police Academy. He married Shelly Lambright and the couple have four children.



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