Fighting heroin epidemic


SIDNEY — A statewide conference attended by two of its officers provided the Sidney Police Department with more ideas on how to battle the heroin epidemic.

Capt. Jerry Tangeman and Officer Mike McRill were among more than 800 people taking part in “Ideas that Work – Fighting the Drug Epidemic in Ohio.” The event, held in Columbus, was led by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“The heroin overdose epidemic is alarming.” Tangeman said this week. “No community big or small is immune to it. Exploring alternatives to arrest in reducing heroin abuse is essential. The conference was very educational and presented a platform for other law enforcement agencies who have alternative programs up and running to share their experiences and objectives.

“As a result of this conference, ideas have been fostered within our agency to develop a similar program that will emphasize helping an addict and not arresting them. To make this successful, law enforcement will have to partner with other entities within the community such as medical professionals and drug and alcohol counselors. This program will take time to develop and will have many obstacles to overcome. Its success will center on the dedication of the community partnership.”

Tangeman said that as local officials explore and develop this program option over the next several weeks, they will reach out to the community to assist in this undertaking.

“Ohio is facing the worst drug epidemic in my lifetime,” DeWine said in a news release. “The human toll, the increased crime, and the overall community impact of this epidemic are devastating. We must work together to find — and share — effective solutions.”

Nearly 800 attendees who represent sheriff’s offices, police departments, state and federal investigative agencies, emergency medical services groups, public safety directors, county coroners, treatment providers, probation and parole leaders, addiction and mental health experts, prosecutors and judges attended the conference to hear about innovative programs and ideas that are working and resources that are available.

Topics covered at the emergency meeting included:

• Naloxone: Why emergency medical personnel carry naloxone, the immediate effect it has, and the long-term effect is has on people in recovery when they’re given a second chance.

• Addiction in Jail: New ways some law enforcement agencies are handling the issue of detoxing addicts in jail.

• New Partnerships: How law enforcement is doing business differently, partnering with others, and helping those in addiction get out.

• Drug Task Forces: How Ohio’s drug task forces are dealing with drug investigations and going after dealers.

• Investigative Tools: How using OARRS, the State Board of Pharmacy online prescription drug database, can prove invaluable in drug investigations.

• Crime Scene Training: How some law enforcement agencies are now treating drug overdose scenes as crime scenes and the training that’s needed.

• Resources: How the Ohio Attorney General’s Heroin Unit Outreach Team and other state resources can help communities with solutions.

Since 2013, the Ohio Attorney General’s Heroin Unit has worked to confront the drug problem across the state, DeWine said. The Heroin Unit includes the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the Special Prosecutions Section, and the Outreach Team.

“In 2014, we lost three to four Ohioans every day to unintentional drug overdoses from heroin,” DeWine said. “Today we took a huge step forward in the fight against drugs in our communities. I am hopeful that together, we can continue to make a difference. It’s a daily fight.”

Local officers attend conference

By Michael Seffrin

[email protected]

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823.

No posts to display