Kettering communities fighting back against drug epidemic
KETTERING, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Ten years, three months and two weeks ago, Brandon Roark decided to get clean.
He's even got a tattoo inked on his arm, as a daily reminder.
"I started smoking pot when I was 13," he said. "I did every other drug under the sun. Name one, did them all."
Eventually, he overdosed, then fell into a weeks-long coma that left him in a wheelchair.
"I've had 10 friends die since my overdose," Roark said. "Seven heroin, three others from multiple drugs."
Roark, like others across the Miami Valley, wants something done to get a handle on the deadly epidemic. Meanwhile, Kettering Police are adjusting their tactics.
"Bolstered up our Vice narcotics unit," said Officer John Jung, Public Information Officer with the Kettering Police Department. "There used to be one or two officers working in that unit. We now have four officers."
Jung told FOX 45's Shavon Anderson that families are hitting hard against dealers and distributors, calling in to the station to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.
"A lot of our cases that we have developed in our city.... it's anonymous tips from concerned neighbors, and that's how a lot of our investigations start," Jung said.
Last month, agencies conducted a drug bust on Lakewood Drive, seize about 1,100 ecstasy/MDMA tablets, as well as several ounces of ecstasy/MDMA powder.
In December, the Vice drug unit arrested six people at two locations, many for trafficking and possession. The city also rolled out a campaign earlier this year, called 'Facing the Epidemic.' It's an open conversation, working to educate and alert. Statistics show the city already exceeded overdose patients from last year, with more than 100 through June.
Roark hopes his story will help others find a better way.
"Jesus Christ, God," he said. "That's why I'm alive."