Hamilton, Butler County coroner picked for new funds to battle opioids

Butler County received more than $600,000 from the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs to combat substance abuse and respond effectively to opioid overdoses.

The department recently announced awards of more than $333 million to help communities affected by the opioid crisis. Nearly $6.1 million will help public safety and public health professionals in the Southern District of Ohio.

In Butler County, which has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, the City of Hamilton received $600,000 and the Butler County Coroner’s Office received $13,751.

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So far this year, the Butler County Coroner’s Office has investigated 148 known or suspected drug overdoses, said Martin Schneider, the office’s administrator. He expects the year’s total to be about the same as 2018, when there were 165 overdoses.

The all-time record for Butler County was set in 2017 when 232 people died from overdoses, he said.

Hamilton’s award is designed to expand access to supervision, treatment and recovery support services ; support law enforcement and other first responder diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders; promote education and prevention activities; and address the needs of children impacted by the opioid epidemic, according to the Justice Department.

MORE: Officials warn of changing demographics of overdoses, including in Butler County

The coroner’s office received its money to support its efforts toward agency accreditation, Schneider said. He said the office’s goal is to be accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners by passing all the criteria.

Also, he said, the government has a “close watch” on how data is recorded regarding the drug crisis. The goal is for all coroner’s offices to have unified recording practices so it’s an “apple to apple” comparison, he said.

With more than 130 people dying from opioid-related overdoses every day, the Department of Justice has made fighting addiction to opioid, including heroin and fentanyl, a national priority, according to the news release. The Trump Administration is providing “critical funding” for a wide range of activities — from preventive services and comprehensive treatment to recovery assistance, forensic science services and research — to help save lives and break the cycle of addiction and crime, according to the release.

“The opioid epidemic has ravaged countless communities and tragically shattered too many lives. While we have seen some progress, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys’ community remain fully committed to working with our state and local partners to combat this complex and evolving challenge,” said U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers.

He said the awards support an “array of activities designed to reduce the harm inflicted by these dangerous drugs.”

DeVillers explained the grants will help law enforcement officers, emergency responders and treatment professionals coordinate their response to overdoses. Funds will also provide services for children and youth affected by the crisis and will support the nationwide network of drug and treatment courts.

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