No area of Tipp City has gone untouched by the heroin/opioid epidemic, participants in a class on the epidemic’s effects on the community heard July 19.
“We are at a point where we want to let people know just how bad this stuff is,” said Sgt. Greg Adkins.
He and Detective Tony Smith of the Tipp City Police Department led the program offered by Tipp Monroe Community Services and held at the Government Center.
More ways to spread the word about the impact are being explored, the officers said after one woman said she was surprised to have numerous people react to a Facebook posting about the meeting saying they were not aware heroin was in the city.
Most lab results from overdose cases show that the cause is fentanyl and carfentanil, both more powerful that heroin. Methamphetamine also is making a return, Smith said.
The department has made a commitment to get the word out on the drugs, he said, outlining a five-part plan for education and enforcement.
“We said, if we don’t admit it’s here, how do we expect our community to so let’s figure out a way to combat it.’ We are never going to defeat it. It’s a losing war that we are never going to win,” Smith said.
Elements of the five-part plan include:
- Education and Awareness: The DARE program for younger students focuses primarily on alcohol and tobacco but the department also has implemented information on drug awareness. Officers also visit the high school health classes. And, there is the community education program such as the one held July 19.
- Tracking trends: Police are focusing on identifying the major problem areas and trying to hit those areas hard. “Drug investigations are among the longest … most frustrating cases you can work,” Smith said.
- Narcan: Officers trained and provided with Narcan for use in the case of response to an overdose.
- Aggressive Investigation: Tipp City added a second detective position in the police department to try to help with property crimes and investigate narcotic related offenses. Smith said a lot of the work involves working with other agencies, such as the Miami County Sheriff’s Office. That cooperation, he said, “has opened a lot of communication channels.”
- Officer training within the department: Smith said he, Adkins and Officer Darren Soutar, the department K9 handler, have received hundreds of hours of training in drug awareness, investigations, etc. Their job now is to share that knowledge with the other officers.
The class also included information on the effect of drugs on health, with issues such as Hepatitis C, and signs of drug use such as lack of focus and lies by an addict.
Joining the discussion was a local woman who said she was a heroin user for years before going into treatment recently, and the mother of a man who is an addict. They shared details of some of their challenges.
“Every person’s story is different,” Smith said during a discussion on the impact of the epidemic on families and how they respond.
Tipp City Police Department Five Part Plan
In response to heroin/opioid epidemic
- Education and Awareness
- Tracking Trends
- Officers with Narcan
- Aggressive investigation
- Officer training