Village Police Chief in Spotlight of Ohio’s Heroin Battle

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NEWTOWN, Ohio (AP) — The veteran police chief in a mostly rural Ohio village where major crimes are rare has found himself in the spotlight on the front lines against heroin overdoses in one of the nation’s hardest-hit states.

Thomas Synan Jr. of Newtown has led the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition task force amid a stunning spike of overdoses that saw 174 reported in one six-day period last month. He’s also publicly challenged Ohio’s governor to do more to help an area that’s “bleeding profusely.”

Gov. John Kasich’s office has responded that he lacks specific authority under Ohio law to declare a “public health emergency,” as Synan and others call for, and that he’s promoted anti-drug initiatives.

But Synan says more help is needed for a problem that “defies traditional responses.”