Justice

Why Ohio Police Posted Photos of a Couple Overdosing

Police and city officials in Ohio made a controversial Facebook post about a traffic stop to make a point about the opioid epidemic. The City of East Liverpool posted graphic pictures and an incident report about a man and woman who they suspect overdosed on heroin.

The incident report by East Liverpool Officer Kevin Thompson says that he spotted James Lee Acord, 47, driving erratically. When he pulled him over, Acord's head was "bobbing back and forth" and eventually he passed out, according to the report. The passenger Rhonda Pasek, 50, was unconscious and started turning blue.

A 4-year-old boy who was later identified as Pasek's son was in the backseat of the car. The officer called for ambulance and paramedics gave Pasek a Narcan shot, according to the report. Narcan is a brand name for naloxone, an emergency drug used to save someone having a heroin or opioid overdose. Thompson also wrote that he found a "pink powdery substance" folded up in a piece of paper inside the car.

East Liverpool Chief of Police John Lane told ATTN: that testing still needs to confirm that the substance was heroin, but police and city officials posted the pictures to bring attention to the heroin epidemic. The pictures in the post do not blur the faces of the driver Acord, the passenger Pasek, or Pasek's young son in the back seat.

"It's bad. The heroin problem is boiling under the surface and a lot of people don't like to see it and those are most of the people who are complaining about putting that picture up," he said. He added that he's not concerned about privacy, and the move to put the pictures up on the city's Facebook page was discussed among city officials in multiple departments. "This wasn't a willy-nilly decision."

Lane wants the public to understand the serious nature of the heroin problem and what it can do to people in the community.

"This is a problem that's of epidemic proportions," said Lane. "This is something that people like to bury their head in the sand but it's not going away." Lane also said that state and national politicians should be doing more to address the crisis.

In March, President Barack Obama spoke at the American Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta and emphasized the need to address the heroin crisis.

"When you look at the staggering statistics in terms of lives lost, productivity impacted, costs to communities, but most importantly, cost to families from this epidemic of opioids abuse, it has to be something that is right up there at the top of our radar screen," he said.

Congress recently passed legislation to fight the opioid epidemic but some people feel like the concern came too late.

In June, the House and Senate passed a bill to tighten regulations on prescription pain killers and and give more money to state and local governments to fight drug addiction, according to The New York Times. However, heroin addiction was declared a national "epidemic" nearly five years ago by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heroin and opiods have also become a campaign issue for the presidential candidates.

Donald Trump used the epidemic as support for his border wall.

You can see the City of East Liverpool Ohio's full Facebook post here.

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