The Ohio city that shared graphic photos of a couple passed out in their car from a heroin overdose while a 4-year-old child sits in the back seat is defending their decision to show the disturbing photos following a small but vocal backlash, CNN is reporting.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, last Thursday (September 8), the City of East Liverpool posted photos, which they warned readers would be disturbing, of an adult man and woman passed out in a car from a heroin overdose. In the back of the car, his face pixelated, was a 4-year-old boy.
“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.”
East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson says that he observed a Ford Explorer with Virginia license plates driving erratically behind a school bus. Eventually, the driver lost control of the vehicle, and it came to a stop on the side of the street. Thompson went to investigate.
Inside, Thompson found the driver, later identified as 47-year-old James Acord, speaking incoherently and displaying pupils “the size of pinpoints” — a sure sign of heroin overdose. The passenger, later identified as 50-year-old Rhonda Pasek, was similarly showing signs of heroin intoxication. In the back seat was a 4-year-old boy, later determined to be Pasek’s son. He was unharmed.
Paramedics arrived and treated the overdosed adults with Narcan, a drug hospitals use to reverse the effects of opiate overdose, then booked them into jail. The young boy was placed into the care of Columbiana County Children’s Services.
As East Liverpool officials explained at the time, they hoped that by showing the photos of the couple, they would draw attention to not only the effects of heroin on families but of the havoc the drug has wreaked in Ohio communities.
“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.”
The decision to show the photos have proven controversial, to say the least.
Facebook user Reggie Bell posted that public shaming isn’t necessarily the right way to address the heroin epidemic.
“Stop sharing this! If this is meant to help these people or anyone else, it will not. Drug addictions and mental diseases are not just cured by sharing photos of people at their lows. If this shame is what this news source and that police department think is going to help mental wellness or addiction, they have just proven their ignorance.”
East Liverpool service safety director Brian Allen doesn’t see it way. He told CNN that he hopes that putting a public face on the heroin epidemic will inspire neighbors to look be on the lookout for signs of heroin use and try to get them help.
As for the couple photographed suffering from heroin overdoses, both have since had their day in court. Acorn pleaded no contest to operating a vehicle while impaired and endangering a child. He was sentenced to 360 days in jail, fined $475, and will have his license suspended for three years. Pasek pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, which include endangering a child, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication. Her next court appearance is scheduled for next week.
Do you think the East Liverpool, Ohio, police did the right thing in posting pictures of a couple passed out from a heroin overdose?
[Image via City of East Liverpool Police Department]