by Jennifer Sierra
Everyone talks about Dayton and Bellevue heroin issues. People think that drug deals and heroin use are at an all time high in the Bellevue and Dayton, Kentucky areas but there is a decline recently that may mean we are winning the fight against drugs here and in other cities across Northern Kentucky.
Overdose deaths are way down in Bellevue. “Our fire department we share (Bellevue Dayton Squad) they are phenomenal. Chief Auteri does a great job. They have Narcan on board. It is readily available.”, stated Police Chief Wayne Turner of Bellevue. The proximity to hospitals helps too. “Word is out on the street, if you are trafficking heroin and you go to Bellevue, they are going to seize your car, you are going to get arrested and you are going to get your money taken. It just isn’t going to be good for your drug business. We (Bellevue) had 22 heroin arrests in 2013, in 2014 we had 12 arrests. Out of those arrests, a big part of those dealers were servicing Dayton too. Former Dayton Police Chief Scott O’Brien, was a big part of that (increase of arrests).”
Many of us don’t realize how these drug dealers do business. According to Chief Turner, many of them are living off of government programs like disability. The money they make from drug deals is all cash so they don’t claim income taxes on it. They also tend to be African American or Hispanic. 80% of crimes being committed here in Dayton and Bellevue are drug related. Thefts are usually committed by heroin addicts looking for money to buy drugs. Prostitution is the same. Many people involved in prostitution are usually doing it to support their drug habit. According to Chief Wayne Turner, “100% of heroin victims are Caucasian and 80% of dealers are non-Caucasian. The 20% of Caucasian dealers are users too, selling a part of their watered-down drugs to get their next fix.” Turner said that they mix other drugs like Fentanyl in with the heroin and that is what makes it so toxic.
Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force has only 6 officers and they are focusing on Covington and Boone County right now. Campbell County officers, headed by former Dayton Chief O’Brien, have banded together to fight drugs in Campbell County. Turner said that is how the I-471 Blitz came about in November of 2014. “We try to share resources and information with all other Campbell County police departments. If someone is coming through Bellevue or Dayton dealing drugs, they’re probably going to other parts of Campbell County as well. In the Blitz in November, we had 22 officers working together including Kentucky State Police and DEA officers.” The newly appointed police chief of Dayton, Dave Halfhill, was also part of that group of officers on that Blitz. Route 8, I-471, I-275 and the double AA Highway were all part of the areas these officers covered.
Bellevue’s police department has at least 2 guys on shift at all times with 11 full-time officers and a good overtime budget. “I hire good officers and I pay them well. I can’t compete with Ft. Thomas but with a livable wage and good leadership, the officer turnover rate is pretty low here. We are all robbing the best talent form each other though.”