Nearly 30 law enforcement officers from across southern Ohio participated Monday in Ohio Peace Officer Training (OPOTA) for prescription drug abuse.
Hosted at the Scioto County Career Technical Center in Lucasville, officers from Portsmouth City Police Department and Scioto County Sheriff’s Office also attended. This is just one of 15 regional professional development training classes hosted across Ohio by Warren County Drug Task Force Commander John Burke and OPOTA Legal Advisor John Green.
“Pharmaceutical diversion is everywhere, but probably more — and I’m just guessing — per capita in Scioto County and Montgomery County. It seems like they lead the state in unintentional overdose prescription drug deaths,” Burke said.
OPOTA is a division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“Once Attorney General (Mike) DeWine took over, we really started pushing the concept of regional training. We’re partnering with other experts in the field, like John (Burke), and we’ll take programs throughout the state of Ohio and bring it to the officers where they are. And we do this free,” Green said.
Burke said the class was a general overview of prescription drug abuse in Ohio.
“We’re going to talk about a variety of things,” Burke said. “We’re going to talk about some tools, like Rx Patrol, and that’s a database available to law enforcement for robberies and burglaries of pharmacies. We’re also going to talk about NADDI, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. Any of them here can become a member today for free and there’s a lot of resources on the NADDI website that they have access to.”
The class also discussed health professional diversion and Ohio laws regarding prescription drug abuse.
“In my position, I don’t know everything that’s occurring in the field of prescription drug abuse and John Burke is one of the prominent people in the United States. I’ve seen his classes before and he brings a good product,” Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner said of his participation in continued education and law enforcement training.
Aaron Haslam, special prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, said law enforcement handles prescription drug abuse very different than other drug abuse cases.
“When a law enforcement officer pulls over a vehicle and finds cocaine or heroin or marijuana, they know it’s illegal. But a lot of times when they pull over a vehicle that has prescription drugs in it and especially if it’s in a prescription bottle, they’re not sure what to look for — what indicators that this may not be legal. When in reality, there are certain signs and indicators,” Haslam said.
When asked for examples of the things law enforcement should be looking for Haslam hesitated, explaining that they did not want to publicize their methods for fear that it would help suspects avoid detection.