Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Teen deaths prompt forum on heroin use

Authorities fear drug killed 4 in Campbell Co.

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ALEXANDRIA - Four apparent drug overdose deaths of Campbell County High School graduates in recent weeks have prompted alarmed officials to organize a public forum to discuss heroin use in Northern Kentucky.

• What: Alexandria Police Chief Mike Ward convenes a "community-wide intervention meeting" to discuss the community's heroin problem, after four apparent fatal overdoses.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
• Where: Alexandria Firehouse at 7951 Alexandria Pike
Campbell County Coroner Dr. Mark Schweitzer is hesitant to release the names of the dead because results from lab tests that could confirm his theory will take weeks, but he said he thinks the county has gone from no heroin overdoses in 2002 to potentially four deaths already this year.

"We want to discuss openly what seems to be a trend - no, problem - in the community," Schweitzer said. "We are going to take the first step in what hopefully leads to a solution and that is to recognize we have a problem."

The Campbell County deaths include an 18-year-old, a 19-year-old, and a 26-year-old enlisted man home on leave, Schweitzer said.

In neighboring Kenton County, Erlanger police are investigating whether two residents found dead in a mobile home two weeks ago overdosed on methadone, commonly used to treat heroin addicts.

Residents reported a party Jan. 23 at that home and one of the two found dead there Jan. 24 had a prescription for methadone.

Schweitzer will attend the public forum on Wednesday that is being organized by Alexandria Police Chief Mike Ward.

Other public officials who have been asked to attend are Northern Kentucky Police Chief Jeff Butler, Campbell County Commonwealth's Attorney Jack Porter and Campbell County School Superintendent Roger Brady.

The goal is to have any concerned citizen to attend and share ideas on how the tackle illegal drug use in Northern Kentucky, particularly in south-central Campbell County.

"We don't want to wait and sit idly for my theory to be confirmed," Schweitzer said. "The preliminary facts are alarming enough. I would rather be proactive."

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com

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