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Dayton to Consider Adding More Police

The City of Dayton may consider adding more police.

At last week's city council meeting, Police Chief David Halfhill said of his department, "We always feel like we're one behind."

Halfhill was referencing time away by officers or regular off-duty time. The chief left last Tuesday's meeting before it ended so that he could go on overnight patrol.

"Start figuring out if we need more manpower," Councilman Bill Burns said to the chief. "I think that our police department is the finest it's ever been (but) we're going to burn these people out and we're going to lose them."

The number of officers in the city is set by ordinance, so the safety committee will meet to explore the issue of raising it from ten to eleven.

Halfhill said that it may be necessary, especially as Dayton prepares to add roughly 2,000 more residents over the next two years in new development along the riverfront. "We may need up to twelve (officers)," Halfhill said.

The more pressing cause of concern for police presence in the city, however, is the alarming number of heroin-related incidents, from vehicle crashes to overdoses. Bellevue-Dayton Fire Chief Michael Auteri, whose department nearly ran out of Narcan - the overdose reversal kit - before a generous donation from NKY Hates Heroin, said that there were 26 overdoses in March and 25 overdoses in April in the two cities, with 31 of those 51 happening in Dayton. The numbers are similarly on the rise in many cities in Northern Kentucky and across the nation.

The Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department has spent more than $6,000 since January on Narcan.

Auteri, reacting to some comments made on social media about Narcan use by emergency responders to revive overdosing patients, said that the department does not have the option of just letting people die, as some commenters suggested. The department would put some of its certifications in jeopardy if it did not work to keep overdosing patients alive, Auteri said. "Everything we do is by law. We have to do exactly what the state says we have to do," Auteri told council. "We are doing everything we can out there to make a difference."

Councilman Joe Neary suggested hard-billing the overdosing patients for the Narcan used to revive them. The higher intensity heroin now circulating in the community, made more dangerous by fentanyl, is frequently forcing emergency responders to use multiple vials of Narcan. "What's killing us is the money," Neary said, suggesting that patients could be bill $100 or $200 for Narcan. Collecting is difficult, he admitted, but said that the city could employ a collections agency, "and then, maybe word would get out: Don't OD in Dayton or Bellevue."

Councilman Denny Lynn, a former fire chief in the city, said that hard-billing has been explored in the past, but it was ultimately decided that it would offer little return. 

Councilman Ben Baker posited that heroin activity in the city is not always being brought on by residents. Indeed, a recent car crash into the city's veterans memorial monument was caused by a driver from Cleves, Oh. "Sometimes we get bad press but it's not always our residents," Baker said. 

Halfhill said that police are doing what they can, but overdosing patients will often leave the hospital and use again. Though, recently, the chief said that a man came up to him and confessed to being an addict and asked for help. Halfhill offered him the NKY addiction help line. 

Other notes: 

Mayor Virgil Boruske voted to break a 3-3 tie about studying whether to make the 500 block of Ervin Terrace one-way to traffic. He voted against making the change, one championed by Neary. Boruske said that it would have a negative impact on his nearby business, Boruske Brothers Collision Repair.

Food Truck Thursday will begin in Dayton on June 1 at Memorial Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mr. Softee and Packhouse Meats will be on hand, said Main Street Manager Robert Yoder. 

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher