Some Ohio agencies arresting, charging victims of drug overdose

A handful of police departments in Ohio have gone back to arresting victims of drug overdose. (Sinclair Broad Group).

In the ongoing fight against opiate addiction, law enforcement agencies have tried just about everything. After the Good Samaratin law went into effect last year, many agencies held off on arresting victims of overdose, opting instead to get them into treatment facilities.

"We can continually charge these people time and time again with drug-related crimes or we can try to eliminate drugs from the factor," says Joe Navarre, who works in the Lucas County Sheriff's Office Drug Abuse Response Team (DART).

He says Sheriff John Tharp's philosophy is simple; get drug addicts the help they need rather than locking them up.

Recently in Miamisburg, police went back to arresting those who overdose, charging them with inducing panic.

"I think that if you're breaking the law, you need to get arrested," said Matt Bell of Team Recovery. "If you do the crime, be prepared to do the time."

Bell is a recovering addict and a founding member of the group -- he's also the president of the soon-to-open Midwest Recovery Center in Maumee.

As a drug-user, Bell says he was arrested more than a dozen times over a ten year period.

"I wanted to die," he says.

It was his rock bottom.

And while he believes people who break the law should be arrested, he says it might not always be the healthiest solution.

"Some people don't need to get arrested to stop. Some people do get sober in jail."

A big part of what DART does is follow up with addicts and help guide them through their recovery and aftercare, avoiding the crowded legal system in the process.

"What they're doing is working," says Bell, who reached out to the group went he realized he needed help.

"People are still paying for their crimes," says Navarre. "People are still held accountable, it just may not be today."

He adds that drug addicts are frequently referred back to the courts upon the completion of their treatment.

Miamisburg police say those who overdose and are arrested can avoid charges by entering treatment within 30-days of their arrest.

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