More than two dozen people participated in a protest Saturday against Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones’ refusal to allow deputies to use Narcan on overdose victims.
But don’t look for the sheriff to change his mind anytime soon.
The protest at the Hamilton City Building drew some honking of horns as the small group chanted and held signs to passing traffic at the intersection of High Street and Martin Luther King. On the opposite corner, a group of motorcyclists and a trucker were gathered in the city parking lot expressing their support for Jones.
Fairfield resident and organizer Noah Daughhetee, of IndivisibleOH8, said his group believes that “using Narcan on someone who overdosed is the humane thing to do.”
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His group teamed up with another progressive group called Our Revolution Butler County to hold Saturday’s protest.
“We want to send a message to the sheriff and the community that heroin addiction is a disease,” he said. “It’s not a moral failing … We need to protect human life and we need to go all in on prevention because it’s worthwhile to save these people.”
The group said they are planning another protest Tuesday before the Middletown City Council meeting.
Edna Southard, of Oxford, participated in the protest and other protests because “elected officials are here to help everybody and not make choices about who to help.
“We have to help everybody,” she said. “That’s their (elected officials) job and that’s what this is about.”
Becky Neal works in mental health and addiction counseling and said she sees people change every day.
“We’re responsible to help other people,” Neal said. “I think everybody deserves an opportunity to do this. I hope Sheriff Jones would be a part of the solution in the community. We’re all in this together and the sheriff needs to be part of the process.”
Christopher Skinner, of Hamilton, a former addict who founded RockStarRecovery.org to help other addicts to get into treatment was there in support of the groups. Since September 2015, Skinner said his organization has helped 500 people get into treatment. Early next week will mark three years of being being clean from heroin, pain killers and Xanax, Skinner said.
“I hope the sheriff softens his heart,” he said. “What doesn’t work is pointing fingers and shaming them (addicts). We need to reach out to them.”
But across the street, Larry Jaycox and his wife, of Cincinnati, and a group of motorcyclists were gathered in support of the sheriff.
Jaycox, a trucker for 24 years, said he supports Jones on his position on “not being willing to give his deputies Narcan to carry, which I agree 100 percent on that. It’s an officer safety issue ... We’re here to stand behind Sheriff Jones and the job that he’s doing. He’s right on the money as far as officer safety is concerned.”
He said deputies are not medical professionals and no one is going to ask a doctor or paramedic to respond to a police call.
Jones visited with Jaycox and others a few times during the day, shaking hands and having photos taken with the group.
“Basically, we’re not going to use Narcan,” Jones recently told Ashleigh Banfield on HLN’s “Primetime Justice.”
“It was nice to have two protests across the street from each other having two different viewpoints having a peaceful protest,” Jones said. “That’s the way protests are supposed to be.”
He said the issue has been getting a lot of worldwide attention and it’s got people talking.
“This is a good thing,” Jones said. “It’s really not about Narcan, it’s about the drug problem. Everyone is looking for a solution but there is no solution.”
However, while he says the protests are a good thing, Jones hasn’t changed his mind.
“As of this time, I don’t see me changing my mind today, tomorrow, or the next day.”
While the IndivisibleOH8 group’s earlier statement singled out the sheriff’s office, this news outlet has previously reported that no officers in any Butler County police department carry Narcan, citing prompt EMS response times to incidents.
In February, Carlisle considered equipping officers with Narcan. Carlisle would join Dayton police, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Miami University’s police among area law enforcement agencies whose officers carry Narcan.