MEDINA — Medina Police Chief Ed Kinney said Tuesday that the police department can’t take sole credit for the reduction in drug overdoses in the city in the year 2018.
He said he believes the community also has made headway.
“I wouldn’t attribute it solely to the police department,” Kinney said.
“It’s a combination of everything. We have the resources to show we’ve made an impact. It’s a three-pronged approach.”
Prevention is the first step, he said, followed by aggressively going after drug dealers and, finally, getting people the help they need to fight their addictions through recovery services.
“That three-pronged approach is paying dividends,” Kinney said.
In 2017, Medina police investigated 43 overdoses, with six resulting in deaths. Naloxone was deployed 24 times to aid lifesaving measures to a person who had overdosed.
A year later, according to the 2018 annual report that was released recently, the numbers dropped to 30 overdoses, five deaths and Medina officers used the overdose antidote 12 times.
More using meth
Kinney said drug users have migrated away from opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, to methamphetamine. He said it’s not only cheaper, but it’s harder to overdose.
He said an eight ball of meth — about 3.5 grams — costs about $150.
Crystal methamphetamine has become more readily available in the entire region at a significantly reduced price. One gram of methamphetamine is available at approximately one-tenth the cost of one gram of heroin or fentanyl, the report said.
There were also overdoses in Lafayette Township in 2018, two resulting in death. Medina police started providing its services to the township on Sept. 1 for $300,000 a year.
In Medina in 2018, three of the overdose victims were repeat offenders — one person received naloxone on four different occasions. Another overdose victim was administered naloxone on three occasions, overdosed a fourth time in which the administration of naloxone was not necessary, then overdosed a fifth time and did not survive. He was found dead in his home.
Criminal charges were filed in eight overdose incidents, including possession of heroin, possession of fentanyl, and/or drug abuse instruments. In many incidents, criminal charges were not filed due to a lack of physical evidence.
The Medina County Drug Task Force, which includes Medina Detective Dan Warner, conducted 55 criminal investigations in Medina.
Warner conducted 37 of the cases, charging 37 people with 61 criminal offenses as a result of the investigations.
Task force agents served 16 search warrants and conducted three consent searches relative to investigations initiated in Medina.
The task force worked in concert with Medina on a lot of investigations as agents have found that many people involved in drug trafficking and abuse that have historically been found in Medina have migrated to the townships surrounding the city to conduct their illegal activities, the report said.
The motels along state Route 18 and Interstate 71 have become a popular location for these people to further their illegal drug activities, according to the report.
Arrests have increased
With concerted efforts being made to combat the drug epidemic in the city, Kinney said officers are also working hard to identify and investigate situations and the result has been an uptick in arrests by Medina officers.
According to the report, arrests numbers were up in 2018 compared to the previous two years.
Kinney said the higher number of arrests is in direct relation to self-initiated activity.
“That has increased dramatically,” he said. “Officers are out there shaking the bushes. Calls for service are also up.”
Kinney said with self-initiated activity, officers are addressing complaints, checking traffic and suspicious people.
“We’re out there doing police work instead of just driving around,” he said.
Here is a look at police activity by the numbers.
There were 797 arrests by police in 2018, compared with 738 in 2017 and 755 in 2016.
Felonies also took an upturn in 2018, as there were 113 felony arrests. There were 110 in 2017 and 99 the year before. There were 43,075 total calls in 2018, including 28,548 officer-initiated calls and 13,462 dispatched calls.
In a breakdown of 2018 crimes, no homicides were reported. However, there were eight rapes, three robberies, no aggravated assaults,
24 burglaries, 270 thefts and 15 vehicle thefts.
The report said traffic stops were up in 2018. There were 9,158 traffic stops last year, compared with 7,209 in 2017.
Traffic citations increased in 2018 with 3,078, compared with 2.336 in 2017.
Also, domestic violence arrests were up in 2018 with 110, compared with 87 the year before. There were 190 domestic violence incidents in 2018, one more than 2017.
In 2018, the Medina Communication Center handled 883,219 telephone and radio calls, a 56 percent increase from 2017. This equates to one call every 35 seconds every day of the year.
Calls for service increased in 2018, according to the report.
There were 43,010 calls last year (17,052 Montville police, 11,165 Medina Township police, 4,509 LST and 1,338 Medina fire).
That compares to 28,620 in 2017 (11,865 Montville police, 11,257 Medina Township police, 4,196 LST and 1,474 Medina fire).
He wouldn’t say the community is safer because of the increase in arrests and activity.
“We’re out there doing our job,” Kinney said.
“We want to expand our footprint in the community. We’ve been doing that in our community-oriented policing programs. Our officers are getting out of their cars and communicating with members of the community. We’ve emphasized community policing.”
Kinney said he hopes he’s put his stamp on the department since taking over in late 2017.
In the last 12 months, he said the department has embarked on an ambitious campaign of change and upgrades, each of which he said provides the community with a better and more effective policing service.
There are two lieutenants, Scott Marcum and Dave Birckbichler, on a police force currently at 38 officers.
The police dog program, dormant for many years, has been re-instituted. Officer Mike Lyon and his K-9 partner, Nero, hit the streets in April. Kinney said the canine program is a valuable multifaceted tool assisting in drug enforcement, tracking of suspects, tracking of missing persons and building searches.
Lyon and Nero are very engaged in the community, giving K-9 demonstrations to groups throughout the city.
The bicycle officer program was also reinstated and updated.
The annual report can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2T3g4og.
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