An Ohio police department says it made the decision to release a set of graphic photos to drive home the devastating effects of heroin addiction and the toll it takes on families.
The photos show a man and woman passed out in the front seat of a car with a child sitting in the back.
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug,” East Liverpool police said, explaining its decision.
“We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess.”
The traffic stop
The photographs, which the department posted on its Facebook page with a graphic warning, come from a traffic stop earlier this week.
Officer Kevin Thompson approached the driver, James Acord, who was weaving erratically between lanes, noticing the man’s head “bobbing back and forth his speech was almost unintelligible,” according to an affidavit.
Thompson said Acord was trying to tell him that he was taking the passenger passed out in the front seat, Rhonda Pasek, to the hospital. But immediately afterward, the driver lost consciousness — and Thompson saw a little boy in the back of the car.
“This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody,” the Facebook post read.
The effects of overdose
The boy turned out to be Pasek’s 4-year-old son.
The officer noticed she was starting to turn blue. He called emergency services who administered Narcan, an opiate reversal agent that can save the life of someone acutely overdosing.
According to court documents, Acord pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while impaired and endangering a child. He was sentenced to 360 days in jail, had his driver’s license suspended for three years and was fined $475.
Pasek pleaded not guilty to endangering a child, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. She is scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing Thursday in East Liverpool Municipal Court. Her bond was set at $150,000, CNN affiliate WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio, reported.
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis,” the department said on Facebook.
“The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that.”