Law enforcement officers from more than a dozen states were in Columbus this week for the Midwest Shield Conference.
The goal was to come up with a strategy to make drug interdiction easier through better communication between states and agencies on both a local and federal level.
For the past few years the Ohio State Highway Patrol has been doing everything they can to make Ohio as unattractive to drug traffickers as possible with a modicum of success.
“We’ve kinda pushed that drug trafficking problem into some of the other states,” said Col. Paul Pride.
In turn, those efforts exposed a shortfall that needed to be addressed.
“We’ve not done a very good job on our communication piece,” said Pride.
Ohio Governor John Kasich stressed that this communication was vital at every level of this effort to keep drugs off our streets.
“We can’t just turn our backs on the rest of the world and everything is ‘America First’,” said Kasich. “Because if everything is ‘America First’ then we’re gonna find ourselves behind the eight-ball.”
Right now in Ohio, that’s an eight-ball of heroin laced with fentanyl.
For years the number of overdoses due to heroin and/or fentanyl have been high in Ohio; but according to Kasich we are about to receive a report that will show heroin deaths are at a four-year low.
Kasich also reminded those at the news conference of the continued success in reducing prescription opioid overdoses, which according to the governor are at an eight year low.
The governor believes the reduction in heroin deaths and the efforts made to regulate prescription opioids are intrinsically linked.
“The narrower the gateway can be the better result we’ll have with the street drugs,” said Kasich. “But there isn’t any way I can commit to you, other than the law enforcement, that somehow we can stop people from doing things to put their lives at risk like taking heroin.”