FORT THOMAS, Ky. – Even before Monday's horrific crash, Fort Thomas police decided to attack the heroin traffic on the highways through the city.
The H.I.T squad – for Heroin Interdiction Team – started rolling on I-275 and I-471 two weeks ago and the results have stunned officers.
"The first week we had 32 citations or arrests drug-related. Nineteen of those are heroin - in one week," said Lt. Rich Whitford.
"One of our officers stopped a female. He found eight grams of crack cocaine, eight grams of heroin, almost $3,000 and a loaded gun."
WCPO rode along with Sgt. Chris Goshorn Tuesday and saw the results first-hand.
Goshorn suggested the H.I.T. team just three weeks ago and Fort Thomas police quickly put a three-member squad in place. The officers patrol the highways looking for drivers impaired on heroin.
"Primarily we're out here enforcing any traffic, registration violations, anything like that to get vehicles stopped," Goshorn said, "and then as the traffic stop goes along, if we find other evidence or information, we'll investigate it further."
When we responded to a stop on I-275, Officer Nick Hoffman had pulled over a driver for not wearing a seatbelt, then found a lot more.
"As soon as he walked up to the vehicle, he saw the back middle passenger appear to be trying to conceal something down her pants," Goshorn said.
That was a significant quantity of heroin in a plastic bag, and the woman was arrested on four drug charges.
The H.I.T squad's goal is to stop fatal heroin-related accidents like the one on I-275 Monday. A driver and two passengers – a mother and her 7-month-old son – were thrown from the car. The driver was killed and the two others are in critical condition.
"That's what they're out there doing -- trying to take these impaired drivers off the road to save lives," Whitford said.
Goshorn says it's a tough job that has to be done, considering the extent of the heroin epidemic in the Tri-State.
"Very, very big problem right now -- and this is exactly why Fort Thomas Police created this unit," Goshorn said.
The team is on the roads Monday through Friday – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- for the next several weeks. Then, it will be evaluated to see if the program should continue.
Odds are it will.