Tuesday, February 7, 2017

City, sheriff to address opioid issue






Posted Jan 16, 2017

The City of Canal Winchester and the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office will team to host a Community Education event on Jan. 25 at the Frances Steube Community Center at 22 S. Trine St. in Canal Winchester.

By DEBBIE GILLUM, THISWEEKNEWS.COM

The City of Canal Winchester and the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office will team to host a Community Education event on Jan. 25 at the Frances Steube Community Center at 22 S. Trine St. in Canal Winchester.
The free program will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and will cover topics such as the opioid epidemic, prescription drug abuse, community awareness and identifying illegal drug activity.
The public is invited to join Mayor Mike Ebert, Sheriff Dave Phalen and Commander Dennis Lowe of the Fairfield-Hocking-Athens Major Crime Unit for this discussion geared to help maintain a safe and secure community.
Lowe and Phalen will make a presentation. Also planned is time for questions and the chance for community members to start a dialogue.
Sheriff Phalen said the presentation will help educate citizens as to what certain drugs look like, what the trends have been, learn how drugs are brought into communities, what parents can do and what the warning signs look for if drugs are in a neighborhood.
"This isn't a new issue; we've seen this kind of drug abuse for eight or nine years all throughout the state of Ohio," Phalen said. "In this point in time, we've done a good job educating students in the schools and we have a lot more resources for treatment for someone who is addicted."
Lowe said his main goal is to raise awareness and explain what law enforcement is doing to address the issue.
He acknowledged that Fairfield County "certainly does have drug issues" and that "drug addiction is a real problem in society."
"I think it would be important for anyone in Canal Winchester or surrounding areas to attend, so they can get a sense of what public officials are doing to address the issue and what the public can do," he said. "People need to remember that these police officers live in the community, too, and we need the public's help with this. It's important the public educate themselves."
Lowe said Ohio has become an epicenter in the nation's drug crisis and the state leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths.
Amanda Lemke, Canal Winchester's Events & Communications coordinator, said the community hosted a similar event last year but focused on general drug abuse. This year, they chose to focus solely on the opioid epidemic for the first time, because "it is such a hot topic in the news right now."
"In Ohio, we are seeing tremendous numbers of people affected and every community is being affected, including Canal Winchester," she said. "It's such a grave issue."
Information also will be available to those interested in joining the Fairfield County Sheriff's Community Watch program.
"A lot of people may think their own family can't be affected but as we've seen recently, any family can be affected," Lemke said. "The more you know, the more prepared you will be."