Law enforcement officials left out of loop on OH heroin prevention program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine are spearheading a new “Start Talking” program to reduce heroin use in the state, especially for school-aged children.

But local drug enforcement agencies said they have not been included in the new statewide program.

Officials stress schools’ role in fighting heroin.

“Heroin hit us like a wrecking ball,” said Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force Commander Jeff Solic.

Solic said officers have been working around the clock to stop heroin use.

“Over the past seven or eight years, there has been a huge increase in heroin cases we have been doing,” Solic said.

It was announced Tuesday that Kasich and DeWine will ask educators to help end heroin abuse. Solic said the new statewide “Start Talking” program never included the drug task force and the Northeast Chapter of the Ohio Task Force Commanders Association

“It is what it is. Hopefully all of the programs combined reduce the problem from the demand side and we do what we can from the law enforcement side,” Solic said.

In response, Rob Nichols, press secretary for Gov. Kasich’s office, sent the following statement via email:

“I’m sure the task force is doing great work and appreciate their efforts, because when it comes to keeping drugs out of our communities and schools, the governor believes everyone needs to be involved. We certainly would hope the concerns over turf would never get in the way of those efforts.”

At the state capitol, a heroin summit was held to educate districts on the epidemic. Attorney General DeWine said a major problem is availability.

“The drug cartels have a good business model. They are selling it literally as cheap as you can buy a pizza and they’ll deliver it to your house,” DeWine said.

Both state and local leaders said they will do whatever it takes to get the drugs off the street.

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