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Criminal Justice Update

Addressing the epidemic


Resources help local authorities fight prescription drug abuse

By Mary Alice Casey

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is prepared to help local authorities fight Ohio’s prescription drug abuse epidemic on multiple fronts.

Unintentional drug overdoses killed 1,373 Ohioans in 2009, an average of nearly four a day.

“I took an oath to protect Ohio families, and fighting Ohio’s prescription drug abuse problem is a major part of that commitment,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “It is critical that we work closely with local law enforcement and community leaders to get at the heart of this problem.”

To bolster the office’s capacity to assist with prosecutions, DeWine named former Adams County Prosecutor Aaron Haslam co-coordinator of the Special Prosecutions Unit and announced that two additional assistant attorneys general would be hired. All will focus almost exclusively on prescription drug abuse.

The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) and the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission also will dedicate additional resources to the problem. And the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy will present free regional trainings throughout the state on drug diversion. (See Trainings, Page 6.)

Adams County, one of Ohio’s hardest hit, nearly tripled the number of indictments from 2009 to 2010, largely because of an increased focus on prescription drug abuse, Haslam said.

“We knew we could address a lot of the crimes occurring in Adams County if we cracked down on the prescription drug problem,” said Haslam, noting that the quest for drugs had led to homicides, robberies, and multiple other crimes.

At BCI, Assistant Superintendent Steve Schierholt will spearhead the bureau’s efforts. He said BCI can provide undercover agents, assistance with surveillance and record analysis, and other resources for local investigations.

“BCI has a long history of working with local, state, and federal partners on drug investigations,” Schierholt said. “In a small community, everyone knows the police. We can bring an unknown face to a local investigation as well as technological tools that are not always available.”

For help investigating and prosecuting prescription drug abuse cases, contact Haslam at or 614-728-9480 or Schierholt at or 740-845-2154.

Drug Take Back Day set for Saturday, April 30

Law enforcement agencies throughout Ohio are participating in a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30. Coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the event allows residents to safely dispose of unneeded prescription medications. A list of participating agencies can be found by visiting and clicking on “Got Drugs?” in the left column.