This past week, the East Liverpool Police Department in Ohio released graphic pictures on its Facebook page that have gone viral and stirred a lot of conversation. A copy of the police report also was posted.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, Officer Kevin Thompson was in his personal vehicle when he saw a vehicle driving erratically. When the car eventually came to a stop, the officer found two adults in the initial stages of heroin overdose.
In the back seat was a 4-year-old boy.
In the gripping and graphic photos you see the little boy in his car seat. He is staring blankly, seemingly unfazed at the site of the couple strewn across the seats unconsciousness.
The female passenger is later identified as his grandmother.
The department decided to make a statement to educate the public.
In its Facebook posting the agency stated: “We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. 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.”
You have to admit the photos are a powerful statement. The images have stirred a national conversation about children impacted by addiction (the adults in the car were revived and arrested).
Police officers across the country encounter children in similar circumstances on a daily basis.
Every time it’s heart-wrenching.
I’ve often said to myself, “These poor kids haven’t got a chance.”
Their stories aren’t pretty.
There was the 2-year-old who survived in a motel room for several days on his own because his mother overdosed on heroin while sitting on the floor. The resourceful toddler had climbed onto a counter to open boxes of cereal and drank water from the toilet to survive.
There were clumps of hair he had yanked from his deceased mother’s head apparently as a result of him trying to wake her up. The smell of the decaying corpse finally alerted other residents something wasn’t right.
There was the time I responded to check on the welfare of a 9-year-old little girl. Knocking on the door, I found mom high as a kite. When I asked where her little girl was she pointed to a closet. I found her unclothed, and her feet and hands were tied up with rope. When I bent over to help her she grabbed my neck and burst into tears. According to mom she was being a bad girl.
Even some unborn kids don’t have a chance.
On foot patrol in an apartment complex we were checking on reports of a laundry room being used by drug addicts to inject heroin. Sneaking up on foot I peeked through a window and saw a young girl bent over on the floor. She held a syringe in her hands. I watched as she proceeded to inject heroin into the bulging veins of her neck. The most shocking part? She was eight-months pregnant.
If these stories sound horrible, they are. And they happen every day in every city around the country.
Addiction is terrible.
Even worse is the collateral damage suffered by innocent young children.
I applaud the East Liverpool PD for taking this bold step. Maybe if the public heard their stories and saw the pictures of the little faces we would finally take drug addiction more seriously.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.