CINCINNATI – Stopping short of declaring a public health emergency, police officials told city council that homicides and heroin are the two leading criminal causes of death in the city.
Assistant Chief David Bailey and narcotics Sgt. Chris Conners testified before council’s law and public safety committee meeting, outlining the steps the police department has taken to address an opioid addiction epidemic that claimed 62 overdose deaths last year in Hamilton County. The testimony comes at a time when the police department is ramping up its efforts to combat gang violence, much of it circled around the heroin trade.
“The heroin problem is probably one of the worst drug situations I've seen in the 27 years I’ve been here,” Bailey said, head of the criminal investigations bureau, which includes the homicide and narcotics units, and the upcoming gang unit.
Consider in 2010, the police department seized a little more than 4 pounds of heroin. In 2013, that number ballooned to 68 pounds. Narcotics investigators have stepped up their efforts, but the increasing availability and popularity of the drug are also factors in the increase, Conners said. Last year, Cincinnati police filed 1,314 lab submissions to the coroner to test heroin seized on the street. That figure was 368 in 2009.
WCPO Insiders can learn more about enforcement, and preventative steps police are taking to combat homicides, gang violence and the rising popularity of heroin.