Police agencies throughout Hamilton County want your help in identifying heroin dealers.
You can do it anonymously through tip lines the sheriff’s department and police chiefs have put in the public eye on posters and bumper stickers and other materials that police are circulating.
It’s a new campaign dubbed “Not in my Neighborhood” that members of the Hamilton County Association of Police Chiefs announced Friday.
“Not in My Neighborhood is a collaborative effort from all law enforcement in Hamilton County – local, county, state and federal – trying to empower communities to report heroin-related issues,” said Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, director of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force.
Have a tip that can help identify a dealer who sold heroin to someone who overdosed? Call this hotline: 513-946-4411.
Know of someone selling heroin? Call this one: 513-352-3673.
“We’re looking for the predators, the dealers, with the Heroin Coalition Task Force investigating deaths,” said Sheriff Jim Neil.
Eight full-time officers are investigating heroin overdose deaths. They’re working to track down the victims’ source of heroin so that dealers can face stiffer penalties – charged not only with drug trafficking but also with involuntary manslaughter or other offenses that relate to the death, said Tom Fallon, commander of the task force and member of the Norwood Police Department.
The sheriff’s department knows that the public’s anonymous tips work, Reid said. He’s seeing results from a two-year sheriff’s billboard campaign, funded with money captured through illegal drug activity. At $100,000 per year, Reid said, it’s paid off.
Last week, the Hamilton County Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit (RENU) saw results from the sheriff’s billboard tipline.
Lt. Brad Winall, the commander of RENU, said the agency arrested three people who were bringing heroin in from Chicago and distributing it in Hamilton County. Agents seized heroin, handguns, jewelry and cash during the bust. He said the investigation is continuing and did not release additional details.
The officers stressed that the campaign is just one of numerous ways Hamilton County officials, through the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, are trying to attack the heroin epidemic.
The sheriff and several chiefs said they’re aware of an uptick in drugged driving on the roads because of the heroin epidemic, and it doesn’t surprise them.
“It’s on our radar,” Synan said. “We’re all trying to find new and different ways of addressing it.” As yet, local police do not have a specific plan of attack on the problem, he said.
“We’ve been hearing the horror stories … about people who are using heroin (and driving),” added Reading Police Chief Scott Snow.
“The addict uses the product as soon as they get their hands on it,” Synan said.
Police have an indication that some addicts are using in their vehicles with the hope that, if they do overdose, “they will be found” and given help quickly, Synan said.
Synan also announced that police and sheriff’s deputies in Hamilton County, armed with the heroin antidote Narcan, have rescued 83 overdose victims since June.
“Our job is to save lives,” Synan said.
“It’s the most amazing thing they’ve ever done. These are people who may not have agreed with Narcan,” he said, referring to the brand name of the drug. But, Synan said, the officers know the person is “a loved one… a family member.”
“When you’re able to give someone another chance,” Synan said, “it’s empowering the officer, the departments, and it’s empowering the communities.”