To combat the heroin epidemic, Middletown Division of Police has added canines, and all five are trained to detect drugs. Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said the canines have made “a ton of arrests” and the police department is collaborating with the State Highway Patrol to reduce the amount of illegal drugs coming into the city. He said most of the drugs entering Middletown are traveling south from Dayton or north from Cincinnati on Interstate 75.
The city made 800 drug arrests last year, which Muterspaw characterized as: “Not a dent.”
Then he added: “Nothing is working.”
Middletown is seeing more participation in treatment advocated by its Heroin Response Team, said Fire Capt. David Von Bargen.
Since starting the program in June 2016, Von Bargen said a team that consists of a police officer, paramedic and care coordinator has contacted 208 Middletown residents who overdosed on heroin. On those, 112, or 54 percent, have walked into a treatment center and sought services from counseling to in-patient treatment, he said.
Lindsey Ervin, care coordinator for the Heroin HopeLine, serves on the Middletown Heroin Response Team and she called that percentage “amazing.”
Once a week, the team goes door-to-door making contact with someone who has overdosed. The goal is to get them into treatment, discuss insurance options and get their family members counseling, if needed.
“You can get the addict help, but if you don’t help the family it won’t work out well,” she said.
MORE: Drug overdoses remain leading cause of death in Butler County
When the team approaches a home, Ervin said some residents take off running because they see a police officer.
Then, when they are told why the team is there, the emotions range from shock to tears, she said.
“It’s devastating,” Ervin said of the home visits. “You see dirty and hungry kids. You see people who are sad and depressed. These are humans and they’re struggling. It’s hard out here. I can’t go anywhere without seeing a trace of (heroin). These kids, this is all they see so they think this is what you’re supposed to do. This is the norm for a lot of children.”
Ervin, 33, who lives in Hamilton, said her mother was a heroin addict. She wants a better life for those dealing with “the monster” of heroin addiction, she said.
“I see so much death, sorrow and pain,” she said after the heroin summit. “When I lay down at night, I think of five people this week, five families I didn’t save this week. And the next day, I’ll get that one phone call, ‘Hey my parents gave me a key to their house again. I haven’t had a key to their house in 15 years.’ It’s motivation and it keeps me going. What if that was my kid, your kid? Would you want someone to save your kid? I know I’d want someone to save mine.”