Ohio State Attorney General Mike DeWine held a press conference Wednesday in Judge Alan Lemons’ courtroom to outline his new 12-point plan to combat the ongoing drug crisis in Scioto County and across the rest of Ohio.
“This is a county that has taken on the battle against the opioid problem and frankly, a lot of things that we eyesight to other counties you all started,” DeWine said during the press conference.
DeWine stated that Ohio is in crisis due to the overdose problem.
“I think there are people in Ohio who still don’t fully comprehend the dangers that we have here,” DeWine told the Daily Times. “We not only have, I estimate 15 people die every single day of drug overdose in Ohio, that’s a phenomenal number, but we have kids born that are addicted.”
DeWine said lives continue to be lost by this epidemic.
“These are our children, brothers, mothers, sisters, our fathers and our friends,” DeWine said. “Countless lives have been ruined and destroyed.”
DeWine also said an unintended consequence of the drug crisis has been the foster care system, which has seen a surge in Portsmouth.
“We’ve seen it right here in Portsmouth. We’ve seen the ramifications or the fact that someone was born addicted,” DeWine told the Daily Times. “Some have developmental problems, some don’t. We’ve seen the foster care in Scioto County more than double and that’s just a staggering number … ”
DeWine spoke about the evolution of the drug problem. He said it began as a prescription pill problem, then went to heroin and has evolved to fentanyl and is now evolving to car fentanyl.
” … And frankly, lord knows what else the evil chemist will come up with,” DeWine said.
After speaking for a few moments about the crisis, DeWine shifted to his 12-point plan. DeWine said new developments in the drug epidemic required new strategies. Before anyone could ponder the payment side of the plan, DeWine divulged that information.
“The questions of course are going to come up, who should pay for this,” DeWine said. “My answer is the taxpayers should not have to pay for this. Rather the drug companies that created this problem should pay for this, deal with this problem. The drug companies have created a horrible mess in Ohio. They should be the ones who should bare the burdens of paying for that”
DeWine sent letters to several drug companies Monday, asking them to negotiate with the state in an attempt to clean up a mess that DeWine lays squarely at the feet of those companies.
“… (Drug companies) laid waste to our state as only the worst plague could do,” DeWine said. “They’ve destroyed families. They’ve made children orphans. And they’ve compelled parents to do the worst thing any parent as to do, and that is to bury a child.”
After teeing off on the aforementioned drug companies, DeWine unveiled his 12-point recovery Ohio plan.
- Give the governor the ability to to declare a public health emergency statewide, or in specific areas.
- Create a 21st century law enforcement data infrastructure that allows real time, data sharing and brings state-of-the art data analytics and crime prevention to every law enforcement agency in the state of Ohio.
- Expand proven drug tasks force models that specifically target and disrupt the flow of drugs from Mexican Drug Cartels.
- Create atleast 60 more specialized drug courts.
- Double substance abuse capacity.
- Expand workforce of critical specialists.
- Empower employers to help employees with substance abuse issues and get treatment while remaining employed.
- Help businesses owners hire employees who are in recovery by offering employers incentives.
- Create a special position that reports specifically to the governor; a cabinet level position.
- Implement kindergarten through 12th grade prevention education through all Ohio schools.
- Create a state wide, drug prevention media campaign.
- Expand early intervention programs that target Ohio families and children in foster care.
After the conference, the Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners Bryan Davis commented on DeWine’s plan.
“I was very impressed, the fact that Attorney General DeWine chose to come to Scioto County to lay out his 12-point plan,” Davis said. “It’s a very concise plan; a very detailed plan. Of course, there will be funding required to layout a lot of that plan. We know where that funding will come from and that piggybacks off of what we are doing at the county level. We know the state is suing the manufacturers and the distributors of these addictive drugs that have snared so many of our citizens right here in Scioto County.
“I’ve very appreciated of that fact that he thought of us. He’s always been supportive Scioto County. Some of the things he’s talking about, we’re already doing. We’re not rookies in this war. I would call ourselves veterans. We’ve been fighting this war for a longtime now.”