We convened, I believe, our 10th Heroin Summit yesterday at Atrium Medical Center yesterday morning. One of the startling statistics was that Middletown is on pace to spend about $100,000 on Narcan this year. This has spawned a number of conversations across social media about the City’s expenses and priorities.
The Journal article covering the summit is below:
Middletown on pace to double overdoses from last year
I’m simplifying Ohio laws considerably, and there are exceptions to what is below, but the City has very few options in not supplying Narcan. Under Ohio law, when we are called to render aid, we generally have to treat whatever condition we encounter. There is no three strikes and you’re out law on the books in Ohio. In addition, we have a good Samaritan law in Ohio which encourages people to call in overdoses and prohibits police from arresting people onsite for heroin related activity associated with the overdose. What this means is that if police and EMS are called to an overdose, the paramedics must render aid (this time, and the second time, and the third time), and if there is heroin related paraphernalia laying around from the overdose, the police must often ignore it and not arrest anyone for the activity.
I’m not going to try to get into the moral implications of whether those laws are good or bad, they simply are the law in Ohio at this time. What this means is that Middletown will spend about $1.5 million a year responding to and reacting to opioid addiction problems in the city. That’s money that could be spent on other priorities.
People always get a little squeamish when I talk about this subject. I firmly believe anytime the city is using $1.5 million of your tax dollars for non-productive uses, it’s critical that we continue to talk about it and do whatever is possible at the local level to solve the problem.
We can’t arrest our way out of this. I can’t keep it out of the city. Below is a story on NBC news last night showing Montgomery County as the leader in addiction in the country:
Inside America’s Most Opioid Addicted County
WCPO ran an article this morning stating that Hamilton County is on track to have the most drug overdose deaths in the United States.
Hamilton County on pace to have more overdose deaths than 2016
And Middletown smack dab in between them. It’s a Middletown problem. It’s a southwest Ohio problem. It’s an Ohio problem. It’s a national epidemic.
So what do we do as a city? We have implemented the best practices being used throughout the country. We have five K-9 drug dogs that are pulling drugs off the street daily. Our patrol and narcotics divisions have more drug arrests than ever before. Our Heroin Response Team has placed 140+ people into treatment from Middletown. Middletown Municipal Court has a Vivitrol program to reduce dependency. We are making progress despite the increasing numbers.
Here’s my challenge to you as a city. There are a lot of things in this epidemic that are beyond our control. What we do control is the culture of this city and its tolerance to drugs, drug dealers and this lifestyle. Most of our shootings this year have been drug related. More often than not, people won’t come forward to be witnesses. There are a few bars in town that cater to these dealers. Boca is one and we’re shutting it down. If you want to avoid violence in Middletown, don’t go to these bars after midnight. Nothing good happens there. I’ll say this publicly; if you are a bar operator in this town and you cater to this crowd, we will find you and we will shut you down as well. Period. No more chances. No more questions and second and third chances.
While I can’t keep this scourge out of Middletown, we all know that there are a number of local, home grown Middletown drug dealers who are poisoning our residents for money and we tolerate it. We catch many of them over time, but finding witnesses to testify is almost always a problem.
When I’ve talked to some of our residents about our local drug dealers, and we know who they are, I hear things like “That’s just Tommy. I went to school with him. He isn’t that bad” or “I know its wrong, but Tommy gets groceries for the old lady down the street and helps neighborhood people when they need cash, so we all just kind of tolerate it.”
We are going to have to find a better way to deal with poverty in this city than having drug dealers buy groceries and hand out cash.
There is no world where someone who sells opioid drugs is ok. They are the scourge of this city and it’s up to us to let them know we don’t want that here and won’t tolerate their poisoning of our population. If you care about this city and you know these people, it’s up to you to let them know they need to take their business outside of Middletown. Our city won’t get better if you watch them poison our residents and you take no action. It won’t get better if you see drug deals and shootings and you won’t cooperate with MPD. We’re all in this together. Let’s fight the good fight.
And yes, this topic gets me aggravated. And frustrated. And pissed off. I wish everyone in the city was as angry as I am about this. I’m tired of drug dealers and I’m tired of watching residents die. We have so many positive things happening in this city and this is one of the few things holding us back from full recovery.
OK…. rant over.