LORAIN — Lorain officials said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has done nothing but hinder police efforts to put drug dealers behind bars, while the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the opioid epidemic.
A four month backlog in drug-testing results from the state crime lab makes it hard for police to keep drug dealers off the streets, said Kyle Gelenius, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lorain Lodge 3.
“I find it unacceptable that drug dealers are being set free or allowed to plead to a lesser charge because of something as silly as a drug-testing delay,” said Gelenius, who also spoke on behalf of the state police lodge. “Law enforcement needs the attorney general to be a partner in keeping our communities safe, but apparently our concerns are falling on deaf ears.”
Representatives from DeWine’s campaign office did not return calls for comment Tuesday afternoon. (Text in this sentence was modified 9/19/2018 to reflect a clarification.)
Gelenius and Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer ramped up their support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray during a news conference on the steps of Lorain City Hall on Tuesday afternoon. Cordray is in a race against Republican DeWine to be Ohio’s next governor. The two will face off in the first gubernatorial debate at 7 p.m. today in Dayton.
Opioid death numbers have tripled since DeWine took office in 2011, while DeWine fought against the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, which support mental health and addiction treatment, Ritenauer said.
“This is the greatest public health emergency facing the state, but in eight years, we have seen very little action on it,” the mayor said. “We’ve given (Republicans) a chance to lead, and I think it’s time for somebody else to have an opportunity.”
The Lorain County Coroner’s Office does not keep separate records for opioid deaths. The office only has numbers for total accidental drug overdoses.
Instead of chasing drug dealers, DeWine has been “playing games” and “chasing headlines,” Gelenius said.
“In one case, DeWine raced to hold a (news) conference in Dayton to tout a fentanyl bust before the drugs had been tested and didn’t have the sense to correct his error,” Gelenius said.
According to the Dayton Daily News, testing later confirmed the drugs were cocaine.
“Mike DeWine needs to stop acting like a politician running for higher office and start doing his job,” Gelenius said. “He needs to fix the drug-testing backlog now so that we can keep dangerous criminals off the streets.”
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