MASON — Drug users who overdose in the Town of Mason might soon find themselves facing penalties in court, if Police Chief Rich Gilkey has his way.
The chief will be approaching the Mason town council when it meets Thursday at noon, to propose an ordinance similar to an inducing panic code. Gilkey wants anyone who takes time and money from the police department and EMS by overdosing to face a penalty. The person would be charged under the ordinance and summoned to municipal court.
And, after posting his proposal on social media Friday morning, it looks like a number of local residents are in favor of his idea. As of 9:30 p.m. Friday, there were 149 people who gave the post a “like,” over 50 positive comments, and 67 people who shared his Facebook post.
“So far we have been on three overdoses this year,” said Gilkey. “Two were for heroin, and the other was unknown.”
The chief said with each overdose, it takes approximately an hour to an hour-and-a-half of time that police officers and EMS could be used somewhere else, perhaps a major medical emergency. In addition, each overdose requires one to three shots of Narcan to revive the patient, which is costing taxpayers, he said.
Gilkey stated while there haven’t been that many overdoses in Mason, the drug epidemic is on the rise. The Mason police have been issuing a number of drug citations, as well as making arrests.
The chief wants stiff penalties for the ordinance, including fines, jail time, and mandatory rehabilitation.
“It’s not really about the fines or jail,” Gilkey said. “Most of the people overdosing are habitual offenders who, once revived with Narcan, refuse additional medical treatment. A judge can order mandatory drug treatment that they can’t just walk away from.”
The chief said the offense could be proven in court because Narcan only works on certain types of drugs, including heroin, codeine, oxycodone, methadone, morphine and Vicodin. He added the town’s attorney would have to approve the ordinance prior to it taking effect.
Gilkey said he came up with the proposed ordinance after his father-in-law faced a terminal illness.
“He wanted to live, and then we have drug abusers overdosing with taxpayers flipping the bill for it,” he stated.
If the ordinance passes, there is already at least one other agency waiting to jump on board. Hartford Police Chief Sam Anderson said once the ordinance goes into effect in Mason, he will be taking it to his council. Gilkey said he has also received positive comments from others in the law enforcement field, as well.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.