Niles police set good example of aggressive opioid fight

Niles police this week made two arrests within as many days, charging two men with trafficking heroin.

Police on Tuesday charged Jarelle F. Johnson, 20, of Warren, with four counts of drug trafficking after Niles Police and Trumbull Ashtabula Group Task Force said their undercover investigators purchased heroin from Johnson in a school zone.

One day earlier, officers in Niles arrested John Anthony Davis, 29, also of Warren, stemming from an investigation and a Jan. 26 incident. Niles police Chief Jay Holland said police have confiscated Davis’ Chevrolet Avalanche and now intend to pursue forfeiture proceedings.

That’s an action of which opioid traffickers would likely take note.

In their continued fight against the opioid epidemic, Niles Police Department also has established a tip line at 330-652-9944, option 3, which it is urging people to call with information on drug traffickers.

We frequently hear about attempts to provide our first responders the anti-opioid overdose drug Naloxone to save lives in acute overdose situations.

We also hear about detox efforts that include things like long-term rehab commitments, counseling and repeated injections of Vivitrol, an expensive drug that blocks opioid receptors in the brain for a month at a time, to help opioid addicts prevent relapse.

Of course, we know about the failures that have numbered 104 overdose deaths in Trumbull County last year and average 142 drug overdose deaths per day nationwide. That makes it the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the U.S.

Certainly, these life-saving efforts and educating the public of this mind-boggling data are critical to stopping the unnecessary path of destruction opioid use is blazing through families and our community.

But the critical role a strong police effort plays in ending the opioid fight by stopping it on the street before it ever is used often seems to garner less attention.

Niles police have responded to the problem, however, by creating an aggressive plan to attack it through investigative techniques like undercover buys, coupled with requests for the public’s help.

Sadly, some may view the arrests they’ve made recently as incidental or with limited reach. But we view them as a necessary step in stopping this very serious health issue.

We especially applaud the Niles Police Department because this work comes despite financial struggles in a city bound by fiscal emergency guidelines.

We hope other police departments, both locally and around the state, look at the model that Niles is using and follow suit by finding ways to put a dent in the opioid crisis from a law enforcement standpoint.