Petition wants criminal charges for people who OD, need EMS assistance

Petition wants criminal charges for people who OD, need EMS assistance

ERIE COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Many see videos of overdoses happening in the streets of northwest Ohio. In response, neighbors in Erie County want to see that come to an end in a different way.

Neighbors in Erie County started a petition and never expected it would gain much traction. They were wrong. More than 100,000 people and counting signed on to stop overdoses in their community without consequence.

In just eight months more than 110,000 people from Erie County and beyond signed a petition to charge heroin addicts when they overdose and EMS is required.  The petition creator wanted to remain anonymous for safety concerns.

"If you're tying up EMS services and EMS has to come rescue you and not necessarily with just the first-time offenders," the petition creator said. "But if you're a repeat offender and they have to come then something needs to be done you need to be charged,  you need to get a dose of reality."

The petition was created by the group Erie County Scanner Uncensored because they hear every day just how many people overdose in their community.

They were shocked by the support they received.

"It's a small voice because Ohio has over 11 million residents, but it is a voice," the petition creator said. "And it's a step forward and I'm really appreciative of everybody that is standing behind it."

Lucas County D.A.R.T. officials say charging addicts creates a revolving door in jails and consumes more tax dollars. They say research proves their method of treatment and support.

"I'll put the D.A.R.T. unit up against that petition any day and I want to know if their success rate with their form of treatment, which is incarceration, is at 79-80 percentile range," asked Lt. Robert Chromik, administrator of the Lucas County D.A.R.T. unit.  "If they can show me that and that person doesn't go back out and commit crimes, or victimize their family or end up dying, then I'll sign their petition for them. But until then I'm going to stick with the D.A.R.T. unit and our community working together."

The petition creator says the Erie County Scanner Uncensored group plans to take their signatures to the Erie County Commissioners with hopes it will have even further reach than just in their county.

Erie County Commissioner Matt Old said over the phone Thursday that commissioners do not handle this sort of issue, but they will hand the petition over to law enforcement once they receive it.

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