WHITEHALL, Ohio — The Whitehall Division of Police carried out a drug blitz over the course of a 24-hour period on Thursday in a effort to seize drugs from the streets and apprehend dealers in the area.
“The criminal activity associated with drugs is really ripping apart the fabric of society,” said Whitehall Deputy Chief Dan Kelso.
Drug activity is a rampant, often overshadowed problem in central Ohio, but drug seizures and arrests continue to make headlines weekly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio ranks among the top 10 states with the most overdose deaths.
Less than an hour into the county-wide unity blitz, Whitehall police made several traffic stops and recovered drugs.
“We do an actual focused, directed, targeted effort to certain areas, to certain roads, to certain businesses and maybe certain people and drug dealers we know that are out there,” Kelso said.
Body camera video shows a Whitehall police officer making a traffic stop on a man who then took off running, even after he was struck with a stun gun.
After a short search, police found the man hiding in bushes, along with the cocaine he threw out while running.
“We had some crack arrests. We see that coming back strong again nowadays. We are even seeing crack laced with fentanyl,” Kelso said.
Whitehall is one of several police departments focusing on pulling drugs off the streets.
Many officers spend the day in the streets, trying to track down where the drugs are coming from.
In total, Whitehall police recovered nearly 100 grams of marijuana and cocaine. Additionally, they made two felony drug arrests, 11 misdemeanor drug arrests and took three guns off the street.
“I know people will say, 'What is the big deal about marijuana?' What the big deal is we are finding marijuana laced with fentanyl, with other drugs. People are using this and are overdosing,” Kelso said.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, 2020 had the highest amount of unintentional drug deaths the state has ever seen with more than 5,000 deaths. Fentanyl was involved in 81% of those deaths.
Kelso said that with the growing drug problem, his officers will continue to find new ways to make arrests and try to prevent overdoses.
“You come into Whitehall with that, we are looking to stop you and put you in jail, period,” he said.