Rittman, Medway tackling opiate epidemic

With the opiate epidemic hitting the city hard, Chief Ray Arcuri is grateful the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency is working with the Rittman Police Department to make a dent in it.

"The overwhelming issue in Rittman and Ohio is the opiate epidemic," Arcuri said. "It's too comfortable for drug dealers and users. ... There is only so much you can do with a black-and-white cruiser and a police officer."

Though Rittman is the smallest of Wayne County's three cities, it is the second busiest in terms of the opiate epidemic, Medway Director Don Hall. What Medway agents and police officers are finding is people using carfentanil, a very potent elephant tranquilizer.

On Oct. 7, officers and EMS were sent to a Louise Street address on a report of a possible drug overdose. Officers found the resident, a 33-year-old man, unresponsive. Officers administered NARCAN to the man and brought him back to consciousness. The man admitted to injecting heroin. The man also produced a needle from his right pocket. Charges are pending.

"A lot has changed in 20 years," Hall said. There was a time when marijuana and cocaine were the top drug concerns. The carfentanil problem is such a problem and harmful, agents no longer field test the drug.

The police and agents are making a team effort to address the problem. Hall pointed out how a joint surveillance effort led to a traffic stop of a prominent drug dealer. Because of the arrest and ongoing nature of the investigation, he could not say much more about it.

"I appreciate Chief Arcuri for being proactive and grabbing the bull by the horns," Hall said. Collaboration is a good thing because "dope dealers have no boundaries," he added. "They don't care about boundaries."

To be better prepared to tackle the problem, Arcuri said the department will need more equipment, training and manpower.

Adding another police officer would cost about $75,000 with benefits, City Manager Larry Boggs said. "My hope would be to put one on next year, but we need to look at the health of the general fund."

Boggs reminded council he never replaced one position in the Police Department, though all city departments are running short-handed.

Published by the-daily-record.com.

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