Ohio AG DeWine talks heroin, crime labs in Springfield

State assistance for Clark County law enforcement and the heroin epidemic were two issues Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine discussed during a stop in Springfield on Monday.

The attorney general said his goal in office is to protect Ohio families — not just through physical protection, but also by creating jobs, fair taxes and business regulations.

DeWine spoke at a Springfield Rotary Club meeting Monday the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center.

The majority of DeWine’s 40-minute speech focused on improvements at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the heroin problem facing the entire state.

“This is the worst drug epidemic I’ve seen in my lifetime,” DeWine said.

>>RELATED: Springfield clinic sees cautious hope in fight against heroin

Every day six to 10 people in Ohio die of drug overdoses, according to state data. Education is a key to solving the issues, DeWine said, and he would like to see drug education classes in schools from kindergarten through graduation.

On a law enforcement level, DeWine’s office started a heroin unit four years ago to go after major drug dealers in the state, he said.

But education and grassroots efforts to locally support addicts through treatment is what makes a big difference, he said.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” DeWine said.

The state assists local law enforcement to get criminals, including drug dealers, off the streets.

BCI provides criminal investigative services upon request, at no cost.

Springfield Police Chief Stephen Moody said his detectives work closely with BCI for evidence collection at particular crime scenes.

“To work in tandem with our crime scene people because of the ability for DNA evidence collection,” Moody said.

The ability to collect DNA as evidence and match it with state and federal databases has excelled over the past decades, the veteran lawyer said.

When he started as attorney general in 2011, DeWine said BCI had the reputation of doing great work, but also a culture of “we’re not in a very big hurry.”

>>DETAILS: Springfield among Ohio cities with backlog of rape kits now tested

DeWine said he wanted to change that. Some rape kits would take more than 120 days to be processed at the lab, DeWine said, which was unacceptable.

“DNA matching is solving crimes every day,” DeWine said.

Through an overhaul of the processes BCI labs use, investigators are doing five times the amount of DNA match work they were before and with an average wait time of 22 days per case, he said.

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