Last updated: July 22. 2013 10:48AM - 392 Views
By - flewis@civitasmedia.com - 740-353-3101

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Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner and Police Detective Sgt. Jim Charles sat down with the Portsmouth Daily Times Monday to discuss the current crime wave, making the news.
In the definition of crime wave, wave is indicative of a crest and subsiding, a crest and subsiding, Horner said. And historically crime has done just that. And right now were at one of those crests.
Horner was asked if their has been an increase in the use of firearms in the commission of crimes, such as burglary.
I think that we are seeing a concentration in a short period of time of gun-related crimes, Horner said. And historically we have had gun-related crimes in the area of drugs. It has been five or six years ago that we had that rash of murders. That was the same time that we felt that we needed to get that tax levy through for just drug investigators. Obviously it went down, and there are a lot of factors that play into the situation today obviously the economic times that we are in at the depressed area that we are in, the increasing use of drugs, specifically prescription medications Oxycontin and Oxycodone.
Horner said that he has had discussions with other agencies around the state, and has become aware of the potential of an increase in heroin use if prescription medications become more difficult to obtain.
When you see hard use of those kinds of drugs, you see an increase in crime related to weapons, Horner said.
Two weeks ago two people were injured when armed intruders broke into a Walnut Street home.
I think it was just the attention we brought to it in this case, Horner said. Weve had those in the past.
I think just the amount of robberies in general has spiked, Charles said. I think the large majority of our crimes can be attributed to drug abuse. People who are addicted, probably dont have the kind of jobs that would support their addition. And the easiest way to support addiction is by crime.
Horner said in October he attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police Convention and one of the seminars he attended involved prosecutors and officers from California that were indicating they are experiencing some of the same things Portsmouth has experienced over the last three years.
Where meth(amphetamines) started on the west coast and moved to the east coast, we have seen prescription drug use, mainly Oxycontin abuse go from the east to the west, Horner said. And theyre experiencing some of the same crime and some of the same activity were experiencing.
So is the city seeing more heroin?
Yes, the five from Detroit (recently convicted and sentenced) had some heroin on them, Charles said. Were seeing it. It is still predominantly the Oxycontin and Oxycodone, but Im sure that if those become harder to obtain for the addicts they will switch to heroin.
Is the state getting the message when it comes to the distribution of resources and attention? Is the state still putting more emphasis on norther Ohio instead of the overwhelming domination of southern Ohio when it comes to prescription drug abuse?
I would say absolutely yes, Horner said. And I say that in the context that we have, historically, going back to the 1990s when I was on the drug task force for about ten years, we dealt with Dr. Lilly, actually in 2000-2001. Horner said.
Horner listed several other doctors who had been convicted of prescription abuse, and said those doctors had set up in Kentucky.
And the closest DEA office was in Lexington for that area, three hours away, Horner said. It was next to impossible to get assistance up here from there. If its here in Portsmouth or Scioto County, were talking about Cincinnati. Were talking a long-distance relationship with the federal people who regulate physicians and pharmacists and these medications. The powers that be have explored the possibility of establishing some kind of task force in Ohio for the purpose of prescription drug investigations and I have heard, unofficially, that they have chosen to establish that task force up in Cleveland. And I think that is absolutely ridiculous, considering that Appalachia is the epicenter for prescription drug abuse.
Horner was a part of Governor Ted Stricklands Prescription Drug Task Force and attended the meetings and spoke to those involved in Columbus on several occasions, and was asked if there is any information as to movement by the state legislature to deal with the prescription drug problem.
My understanding is the legislation as written last year is dead, Horner said. And that it is basically being rehashed and, if it hasnt already, new legislation will come out related to prescription medication and regulation of pain clinics.
If there is a crime wave, what can people do to be more alert and keep their vulnerability to a minimum?
In two words situational awareness is probably the most important thing, Horner said. That is being aware of what is going on around you. If something looks out of place, report it to the police. If you see somebody suspicious that doesnt belong in the neighborhood, call us.
Charles said another thing people need to do is not leave valuables in their car. He said hidden valuables covered by jackets and sweaters are a target for thieves.
They either need to be left at home or locked up in their trunk, Charles said.
He said hiding a GPS system does not prevent theft because thieves see suction cup marks on a window and know that there is a system in the vehicle somewhere.
No valuables in cars. No large sums of money, Charles said.
Horner said it is really not possible for law enforcement to stop crimes such as bank robbery, all we can do, for the most part is respond.
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