In-town overdose proof village needs help, Barrett says

Last updated: July 28. 2014 1:02PM - 3614 Views
By - cwasmundt@civitasmedia.com

Caitlyn Wasmundt | Wellington EnterpriseInterim police chief Mike Barrett says he wants to improve the department's efficiency and battle drug use in town.
Caitlyn Wasmundt | Wellington EnterpriseInterim police chief Mike Barrett says he wants to improve the department's efficiency and battle drug use in town.
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While the village’s interim police chief cleans up storage rooms and brings the department to the 21st century, he’s also hoping to battle drug use.

Chief Mike Barrett said there’s an obvious issue with heroin in town and he wants to see it out of the community.

Barrett said the latest incident happened over the weekend as officers responded to Mosey Inn on North Main Street to find a woman passed out in the bathroom.

Part of a syringe was found along with other items that are typically used with heroin.

Barrett said he believes someone made off with a piece of the syringe to remove the heroin. He said the part that was found was sent to the crime lab.

The woman was sent to Mercy Allen Hospital in Oberlin for treatment and may be charged once the syringe test results come back.

Barrett said the close call is one of the reasons he wants Wellington officers armed with the life-saving drug naloxone like those in Amherst, Lorain, Elyria, and Oberlin are.

Naloxone can stop an overdose in its tracks if used quickly enough.

Another example of a time it could have been used was a routine traffic stop during which a driver started seizing from suspected drug use, the chief said.

The cost to stock naloxone can add up quickly with a $115 permit, $40 kit, and $20 re-fill but it’s well worth it, Barrett said.

“Life is always the most important component,” he said.

Heroin is making its way into smaller communities because people are becoming heavily dependent on prescription drugs, Barrett said. Once people are hooked, they start looking for cheaper options to feed their addiction.

“It’s not a problem for one particular group, it’s a problem for everyone,” he said.

The interim police chief said another tactic he wants to take is community outreach.

He said programs such as Safety Town and having officers patrol schools help with younger generations but he’s still looking at ways to reach older residents, including a community task force.

Barrett said he also has to wait before purchasing naloxone because his job is still in a temporary status.

He said more decisions can be made if village leaders choose to hire him on a permanent basis.

Until village council decides, Barrett said his priorities include preparing for the Lorain County Fair, enforcing parking laws downtown, and boosting the department’s efficiency.

Under his instruction, officers will watch for cars that exceed the two-hour parking limit.

Barrett said many business owners told him their customers have trouble parking since many spots are always taken.

Village council has already hired four new part-time employees per Barrett’s request. He’s also made a push for the department to eliminate paper memos and rely more on e-mail.

Barrett’s contract with the village is set to run through September with a possible extension.

In the meantime, the job remains openly advertised.

Caitlyn Wasmundt may be reached at 440-647-3171 or on Twitter @LC_CaitW.

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