Joyce Meets with Constituents on the Front Lines of the Opioid Crisis in OH-14

Oct 05, 2019
Opioid Crisis

BAINBRIDGE – This week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) met with those who are leading the battle against the opioid crisis in Northeast Ohio, sitting down with the members of the Crime Enforcement Agency of Ashtabula County (CEAAC) and participating in a Lake County Drug Court meeting before observing a docket of the court’s cases.

“Today, approximately 130 Americans will die from an opioid-related overdose, close to 84 infants in Ohio will be born suffering from the horrific symptoms of drug withdrawal, and over 20 million people across the country will continue their battle with addiction,” said Dave. “All of us knows someone who has been impacted by this epidemic, which is why finding solutions to the opioid crisis has been one of my top priorities in Congress.”

Created this year, CEAAC is a local, multi-jurisdictional crime task force consisting of officers from the Ashtabula, Geneva and Conneaut police departments, the county sheriff department and the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Drug Enforcement Administration. Started in 2010, the Lake County Drug Court is a treatment-based, voluntary program that serves Lake County residents who have been charged with misdemeanors related to their problem with drug or alcohol abuse.

“It was an honor to welcome Congressman Joyce to the Lake County Drug Court on Tuesday,”said Dr. Dennis Michelson, the Lake County Drug Court Counselor and Treatment Manager. “He participated in a wide-ranging discussion with the Drug Court Team and attended the Drug Court Status Review Hearing. Following the Drug Court docket, two graduates from the Drug Court presented their experience, strength and hope since completing the Drug Court program. The Court – presided over by Judge John Trebets – has been at the forefront of battling the addiction epidemic for the past ten years, and it was a real encouragement to have Congressman Joyce and other community leaders in attendance.” 

“It was a pleasure having Congressman Joyce attend our Drug Court proceedings,” said Judge John Trebets. “His interest is greatly appreciated in this issue that is a community and global concern. This was a great demonstration of the success we are having with the battle against drug abuse.”

“It was great of the Congressman to come out to visit with the Law Enforcement of Ashtabula County,” said Detective Greg Leonhard, the Commander of CEACC. “At times areas such as ours are forgotten about due to our smaller population where in all reality we have the same issues the more urban areas have. We have seen a re-occurring trend of dealers coming from areas such as Cleveland and Akron to set up shop in our community. The CEAAC Task Force has worked hard since our creation on July 1st of this year…and has had a significant increase in the adoption of CEAAC Cases by Federal Agencies and also have been able to work more in the investigation of overdose deaths to prosecute dealers for manslaughter. We will continue to look at other areas where we can improve Ashtabula County not only through enforcement but by outreach in problem neighborhoods. Hopefully this visit shined light on these needs and we appreciate Congressman Joyce’s attention to our concerns.”

“My time spent with both the Crime Enforcement Agency of Ashtabula and the Lake County Drug Court confirmed what I’ve believed for a long time now, that battling this epidemic requires an all-of-the-above approach that includes not only prevention and education efforts, but also promotes treatment, cracks down on illegal distribution, and enhances resources for first responders and law enforcement,” said Dave.

Earlier this year, Dave introduced the Comprehensive Opioid Program Extension (COPE) Act of 2019, which combats the opioid crisis by increasing the authorized resources available to the Department of Justice’s comprehensive opioid abuse reduction activities. Specifically, the COPE Act would increase the authorization for the comprehensive opioid abuse grant program by $70 million per year from 2020 through 2024, bringing the total provided annually for these grants to $400,000,000. These grants help local communities battle the opioid epidemic by:

  • providing training and resources for first responders on opioid overdose reversal drugs and devices;
  • enhancing collaboration between state criminal justice agencies and substance abuse agencies;
  • enhancing law enforcement efforts to combat the illegal distribution of opioids;
  • and developing or expanding programs to prevent youth opioid abuse, drug take-back initiatives, or for treatment alternatives to incarceration.

The opioid crisis has been breaking apart families, threatening the safety of American communities and hurting the economy for decades, with opioid-related overdose deaths having more than quadrupled since 1999. In 2017, more than 70,200 Americans died of a drug overdose, including 5,111 Ohioans, of which more than 68 percent involved an opioid. These deaths made the Buckeye State one of the top five states with the highest rates of fatal opioid-related overdoses.

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