Addiction to drugs and alcohol causes great hardship and distress to individuals, families and the community. Law enforcement officials are also keenly aware of the connection between drug addiction and serious crime.
An event sponsored by Meridian Community Care and the Boardman Police Department on Thurs., July 26 brought issues into focus by bringing together the entities that are most involved in addressing them. Over 150 persons attended the event held at the Boardman Township Government Center.
The Law Enforcement and Addiction Summit explored collaborative approaches to the addiction problem that might be taken by treatment providers, law enforcement and government.
Participants included: Jack Nichols, Chief of Police, Boardman Township; Larry Moliterno, CEO, Meridian Community Care, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine; State Senators Capri Cafaro and Joseph Schiavoni, as well as law enforcement officials and treatment providers
The summit was a working session, with ideas being solicited from all participants, who looked into not only collaboration, but any barriers to that collaboration that might exist.
“Drug addiction affects all aspects of society. We feel it is very important to involve many different groups of people to get input on how we can work together to deal with these problems,” said Moliterno noting “The ongoing goal will be to seek solutions to the challenges addiction poses---to law enforcement, to the well-being of area families, and to society as a whole.”
Moliterno said the summit was the first in a series of events that are planned to address addiction issues.
The summit provided the following observations:
Trends in Addiction
• Heroin in the suburbs coming in from the cities
• K8/Spice (a synthetic drug) is sold at local stores
• Doctors write prescriptions but not educate patients on their use.
• Younger population of opiate addicts often seen in emergency units, psychiatric units.
Barriers to Working Together
• Law enforcement doesn’t see improvement.
• Stigma of addiction.
• More education needed.
• Lack of resources/limited awareness.
• Funding restrictions that are county-based.
• Lack of knowledge of the background of offenders.
• Law enforcement only sees treatment failures, not successes.
• Lack of communication/knowledge.
• Lack of funding options for those needing treatment.
Opportunities to Work Together
• Get prosecutors and judges more involved through greater awareness/summits.
• Integrate offices/courts.
• Get communities (especially parents) more involved.
• Band counties together (no silos); addiction knows no county lines
• More follow-up with arresting officers (not just arrest/report and walk away).
• Feedback to officers on how offenders are doing.
“This summit brought together law enforcement officials, treatment providers, legislators and others to discuss the connection between crime and addiction. The benefits of collaboration between these entities will continue to be explored,” Moliterno said.