CINCINNATI -- "Where's the leadership?"
That's what local Fraternal Order of Police president Sgt. Dan Hils wanted to know Wednesday night after two Cincinnati police officers were rushed to the hospital.
Each of the two had begun to feel dizzy and light-headed following separate drug arrests, prompting worries that they, like fellow officers in both the Queen City and East Liverpool, were experiencing the potentially fatal effects of unwitting exposure to heroin cocktails such as fentanyl and carfentanil.
Both officers were released later in the evening, but Hils said they were lucky. Not every officer who comes into contact with opioids, he said, will be so fortunate.
"We got enough ways we can lose a police officer," Hils said. "We don't need this way, too. … We have a crisis in Hamilton County."
Hils laid the blame for such incidents directly at the feet of local elected officials, whom he accused of dancing around real solutions to the opioid epidemic to safeguard their political careers. In the meantime, he said, innocent people are getting hurt.
"Here's what we got," he said. "We got people on the left; they don't want to talk about locking more people up. They don't want to talk about locking up more dealers and they don't want to talk about locking up the users because that's offensive and it might not get them re-elected.
"We have people on the right that don't want to talk about locking people up because that's expensive, that would mean more taxes, (and) that won't get them re-elected."
WCPO reached out to Mayor John Cranley's office for perspective on Hils' comments, but did not receive a response Wednesday night.
Hils added he believed more opioid users needed to spend time in jail, where they could potentially go through drug rehabilitation programs behind bars. The WCPO I-Team has previously covered cases of convicted heroin users and dealers, including those with multiple convictions, receiving probation instead of jail timeto reduce crowding in places like the Hamilton County Justice Center.
"It's embarrassing," Dan Meloy, a Colerain Township police officer and director of Public Safety, said in February. "This stuff is destroying families, neighborhoods. How do you answer to your community like this? It's very disappointing."