AKRON--A strong message is being sent from the chief of police in Akron to heroin dealers after recent overdoses in Summit County.
"It's the most serious problem addressing the city right now. People are dying left and right in Akron, Cleveland, Northeast Ohio," said Chief James Nice with the Akron Police Department.
Chief Nice said the heroin epidemic has gotten so bad that the police department is forming a unit to target low-level heroin dealers.
"That team is going to do a thorough investigation once an overdose is reported. They will decide if a search warrant is needed, or if they need to do cell phone analysis. That team is going to find out who dealt that drug and we are going to put a homicide charge on them," added Chief Nice.
That means heroin dealers could face possible murder charges in the case of an overdose death.
"I'm going to go after low-level heroin dealers. The person that put the drugs in the hand of someone who dies. I am going to go after that person and hopefully put them away for life," said Chief Nice.
"I've been out on a lot of these cases and the families want answers. This can help the families if we know who is dealing the drugs," said Patrolman Russell Bassett, who has responded to overdose cases.
Police said the City of Akron averages about two heroin overdose deaths a week.
They add the city averages about eight heroin overdoses a week.
They said overdose deaths are five times more prevalent than gun violence in Summit County.
Chief Nice said the unit will be formed and ready to go in two weeks.