TROY — Shawn Bain and fellow detectives update their drug education program constantly because they have no choice.
Drug abuse and the drugs themselves evolve while police and others — including parents — struggle to keep in the know.
Bain, a retired Franklin County (Ohio) sheriff’s captain, and two other law enforcement officers shared their knowledge from years of investigations during an Operation Street Smart presentation hosted by Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) on May 12 in Troy.
The program, a collaborative effort between DARE and the sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit, is for anyone with a connection with children. Those attending the seminar work in health care, education, the legal system and other fields.
The drug situation today is the worst he has seen in his career with pills and heroin creating a situation even exceeding the crack epidemic of the 1980s, Bain said.
“We are losing more people than ever before. I’ve never seen us lose this many people,” he said. “It’s because of heroin and pills and now fentanyl.”
Operation Street Smart has been making the rounds for more than a dozen years, providing presentations to more than a quarter million people in Ohio and at times other states, Bain said. The day-long educational opportunity was made possible locally through the UVMC Emergency Department and a grant from the UVMC Foundation.
“The UVMC Foundation was proud to provide the funding to bring this important program to Miami County,” said Kathleen Scarbrough, president of the UVMC Foundation.
“Sadly, the current heroin epidemic has not spared our local communities. It is the UVMC Foundation’s hope that parents, teachers, concerned community members, and health care professionals benefit from this training,” she said. “After all, knowledge is power and the more we all know, the better able we are to protect the children and youth in our community.”
Bain, along with Capt. Michael Powell and Cpl. Brian Toth shared information on drug trends, terminology, paraphernalia, concealment techniques, and physiological effects.
Powell talked about street terms for various drugs, noting, “If the users know you are aware of the terms, they will create their own.”
Those who suspect someone is abusing drugs and wanting to confront them needs to watch the person’s body language, Powell said. He and Bain discussed drawing on some of the same techniques used in police investigations to determine if the person confronted is being truthful.
Powell said signs of deception can include deeper breathing, fidgeting and indications the person wants to flee the discussion. While uncomfortable, the discussion may be of critical importance.
“If you are talking to a loved one, you might be talking about his or her life,” Powell said.
Operation Street Smart has received the FBI Director’s Award for Community Leadership and the Project Know Award. For more information, visit sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov/programs.