EATON — Fran DeWine, wife of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, stopped at the Eaton Place to chat with Sheriff Michael Simpson on Thursday, Aug. 21.
DeWine and Simpson were also joined by Magistrate Jenifer Overmyer and Preble County Republican Central Committee representative Stephanie Garrett.
The stop was part of Fran DeWine’s 88-county campaign tour. DeWine said she’s made it about a quarter of the way around Ohio thus far.
“I’m going to really have to step it up after Labor Day,” DeWine joked. “I especially love going to the smaller counties and the ones further away from home. It’s kind of fun to do it.”
DeWine hopes to be the eyes and ears for her husband as she meets with all 88 sheriffs throughout the tour. The purpose is to get an understanding of what the needs are within each county.
For Preble County, and for all other counties she has visited, the number one issue remains to be heroin.
“I always ask what the biggest issue is and so far, in every county, it’s been heroin. Every county. Four years ago, it was a lot of the pill mills, but it has evolved into heroin in the last four years. That’s major,” said DeWine. “From there, all the property break-ins and that – they are all related.”
During the discussion, Simpson added to this:
“Heroin drives your property crimes. A lot of them are petty thefts, but you’ll get residential burglary and things of that nature. They’ll trade guns for heroine. A lot of the stuff they are pawning for cheap,” he said. “That’s the huge, huge thing right now.”
Another issue with heroin is that it knows no social boundaries. It can affect anyone and everyone. DeWine mentioned that her husband has hired three people on his staff to address the issue – two of which have lost children to the drug.
“They are trying to get to the education of it. I think at least two of them have lost children to heroin. On our website we have a video called “Marin’s Story” that shows her beautiful daughter and then how tragically it all happened,” said DeWine. “We have to figure out how we keep these young people from starting.”
DeWine then asked for Simpson’s input on what can be done to fight against the epidemic.
“I think it’s different things. There is a law enforcement component; there is a prevention component – trying to get to the kids when they’re younger; there is a rehabilitation component because there are some on it that want to get off it. It takes such a long period of time. It can take up to two years to get yourself clean,” said Simpson. “You need to combine all of those components at one time. I don’t know what the magic answer is – I don’t think anyone does at this point.”
Also on the docket for discussion was DeWine’s initiative to get DNA kits out of backlog and to get them tested.
Before DeWine took office in January of 2011, there were over 8,000 DNA kits that had yet to be tested in the state of Ohio. Since his election, that number is down to 4,000.
“I think the DNA kits and getting them processed because they were backlogged has been huge,” Simpson told DeWine.
DeWine continued: “Mike knew it was a problem because he had been reading about it for years. When he was in the Senate they wanted money to get these processed across the country and Mike helped get the money appropriate for the local jurisdiction. He found out they were still there and I think it shows that all his experience have helped him see problems that not everyone can see.”
Simpson also wanted to use the meeting as an opportunity to let DeWine know that he, along with all other 88 sheriffs, appreciate her husband’s efforts and let her know that he is behind the Republican candidate.
“All the sheriffs in the state, he’s been a good friend. He’s kept his word on ‘We’re here to help.’ (The Bureau of Criminal Investigation) is now just a phone call away. One phone call and we’ve got what we need,” said Simpson.
DeWine will be opposed by former Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper in the upcoming election on Nov. 4.