Columbiana Co. prosecutor: Drug problem a ‘public health crisis’

Prosecutor John Gamble says he's not surprised by the local and international media attention the county has been getting

columbiana county prosecutor john gamble

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WYTV) – Columbiana County’s Prosecutor says the drug problem is too big for law enforcement to handle on its own.

Last week, photos of a 4-year-old boy sitting in the backseat of a car with two unconscious adults in the front drew a spotlight on the area’s growing drug problems.

Prosecutor John Gamble says he’s not surprised by the local and international media attention the county has been getting.

“The only thing unique about the case are the photographs that were produced.”

Gamble admits Rhonda Pasek and James Acord, the adults in the pictures, are just two of a long line of drug-related defendants that prosecutors and police are seeing on a daily basis. He says the problems of addiction, overdoses and deaths have become what he calls a public health crisis.

“We’re doing what we can to address the issue, but it’s beyond the resources of law enforcement to resolve it all.”

While Gamble did not want to talk about the controversy generated by the decision to show the little boy’s face in the pictures, he says the images do show how far-reaching the problem is.

“The child in the photograph represents thousands and thousands of other children in similar circumstances.”

Although Gamble admits that cases like this are seen regularly by police and prosecutors, the general public is still largely unaware of the impact of drug abuse and the strong grip addiction has on users. He hopes these images could make a lasting impact.

“You know if it gets the attention of the state legislature and the Governor’s Office, that’s a good thing.”

State Rep. Tim Ginter and Attorney General Mike DeWine will be holding a public community event in Columbiana County next month to discuss the drug epidemic.

“Given recent events in East Liverpool that have shed light on how horrific this drug epidemic can really be, it is important we work together, transcending all party affiliations, to find solutions as soon as possible in coordination with our local communities,” Ginter said.

The event will take place at 10 a.m. on October 11 at a location in the county that’s still to be determined.

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