Newtown police chief on Kellyanne Conway handling opioid crisis: Did we run out of doctors?

CINCINNATI -- As someone who sees how opioid addiction cripples the community everyday, Chief Tom Synan said he was surprised to hear White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway will lead the country’s drug crisis.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Wednesday that President Donald Trump appointed Conway because she is “exceedingly talented” and she “understands messaging,” which Sessions said will help change the country’s perception on addiction.

Conway worked in the polling industry and ran Trump's presidential campaign. She has no formal experience in drug policy, law enforcement or public health.   

Synan, Newtown’s police chief and a member of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, said he would have selected someone who works directly with the issue, like a doctor, police officer or addiction expert.

“If I was in a position where I was going to declare an emergency, I would make sure I put people in place that are experts in that have firsthand knowledge, that are out there on the street who are dealing with this because they are the ones who know what is needed,” Synan said.

Trump declared the country’s opioid problem a “public health emergency” last month. Synan said he appreciates the national attention, but he said those words mean nothing without appropriate action.

“I commend everybody who stands up and says, ‘We need to do something about this and that we're behind it,’ but show me actions,” Synan said. “Don’t tell me, show me.”

Synan said it’s frustrating for him as a first responder because he realizes people die from drug use everyday, and he thinks that realization gets lost for people who don’t directly deal with combating addiction.

“I don't want to get involved in politics, but it seems like it is a political position … I think I would have gone out to the country and tapped into people who are national experts who are on the street who are literally dealing with this issue every day,” Synan said.

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