Sen. Brown talks drug prevention bill in visit to Valley

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Thursday was Overdose Awareness Day — perfect timing given the overdose numbers released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Health.

That report says a record 4,050 people died of drug overdoses in 2016.

Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown visited the Boardman offices of the Mahoning County Drug Task Force on Thursday to push legislation he’s introduced into Congress. He hopes his plan can help solve the problem.

“We have the technology,” Brown says. “We just haven’t invested the dollars to deploy this technology as widely as we need to.”

“Senator Brown has introduced what’s called the Interdict Act,” said Lt. Jeff Solic of the Mahoning County Drug Task Force. “Which will provide border patrols with 15 million dollars for high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect specifically fentanyl before it gets into the United States. Most of it comes from China.”

Solic called Brown’s bill common sense.

“We have the ability to stop something before it hits the streets of the United States, of the state of Ohio,” he said. “Why would we not do that?”

Going by the overdose numbers released Wednesday — which showed 1,000 more deaths than in 2015 — there were an average of 11 overdoses per day in 2016.

“One’s way too many,” Brown said. “4,000 is unacceptable.”

Solic later pointed out that the 4,050 deaths only tells part of the problem.

According to Solic, the number may have quadrupled were it not for the people saved by the overdose reversal drug Naloxone.

So why can’t law enforcement prevent fewer people from dying?

“Our society really didn’t see this coming to this level of seriousness,” Solic said. “That’s why nobody has been prepared for it in terms of law enforcement having the resources.”

Brown also says he supports the STOP Act — which would outlaw fentanyl being shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.