Village police chief in spotlight of Ohio’s heroin battle

NEWTOWN, Ohio (AP) — The veteran police chief in a mostly rural Ohio village where major crimes are rare has found himself in the spotlight on the front lines against heroin overdoses in one of the nation’s hardest-hit states.

Thomas Synan (SEYE’-nun) Jr. of Newtown has led the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition task force amid a stunning spike of overdoses that saw 174 reported in one six-day period last month. He’s also publicly challenged Ohio’s governor to do more to help an area that’s “bleeding profusely.”

Gov. John Kasich’s KAY’-siks) office has responded that he lacks specific authority under Ohio law to declare a “public health emergency,” as Synan and others call for, and that he’s promoted anti-drug initiatives.

But Synan says more help is needed for a problem that “defies traditional responses.”