- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 8, 2017

Drugs overdoses killed nearly 200 people last year in Butler County, Ohio, but its sheriff is standing by his decision not to let deputies carry Narcan, a life-saving drug used to revive dying opioid users.

“I don’t do Narcan,” Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jonestold The Cincinnati Inquirer on Thursday.

“They never carried it,” he said of his deputies. “Nor will they. That’s my stance.”

Amid a nationwide opioid crisis, Ohio’s Butler County in particular has suffered substantially. Butler witnessed a record 192 drug overdose deaths in 2016 and is currently on pace to shatter that statistic in 2017. Its coroner’s office saw 96 fatal overdoses during the first three months of the year, including 80 involving opiates, officials announced recently.

Yet while deputies in surrounding Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties all carry Narcan, Butler’s top cop said he’s opposed to following suit.

“There’s no law that say [sic] police officers have to carry Narcan,” he told NBC News on Friday. “Until there is, we’re not going to use it.”

Using Narcan, according to the sheriff, is neither an effective nor affordable way for Butler to counter the opioid crisis.

“All we’re doing is reviving them, we’re not curing them,” he told NBC News on Friday, all the while the costs of administering Narcan are supposedly “sucking the taxpayers dry.”

Butler County wouldn’t foot the entire bill if the sheriff changed course, however, a spokesman for the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services told NBC News.

“Local law enforcement in Ohio can decide whether to carry naloxone, and many are choosing to do so,” the spokesman said. “The state helps fund the purchase of naloxone for first responders — including law enforcement.”

Butler is the only county in southwest Ohio where officers aren’t authorized to carry Narcan, The Inquirer reported, but hardly the worst hit so far by the ongoing opioid crisis. Coroners in nearby Montgomery County saw 360 fatal overdoses in 2016, and are currently on pace to witness upwards of 800 by the end of 2017, according to a recent report.

Accidental overdoses killed more than 4,000 people statewide last year, up 36 percent from 2016 when Ohio led the nation with respect to fatal overdoses.

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