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Community group forms to battle heroin

NEW RICHMOND, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- A large group of concerned neighbors and business owners come together to fight the spread of heroin.

This group decided to step up following a series of Local 12 News reports.  They call themselves "River Rats on Attack."  The group formed after a story Local 12 brought two weeks ago when the New Richmond police chief admitted he's overwhelmed by heroin dealers and users in his village.

It was a story seen only on Local 12.

The response and the support for the police chief was nothing short of phenomenal.  About 130 neighbors and business owners organized the "River Rats on Attack" group.  They will have their first meeting at The Bandstand at 6p.m. Wednesday, July 30.  Their goal is to fix the heroin problem in the village, one way or another.

Ollie Darnell opened her dog grooming business on Sycamore Street about a year ago.  One of her first tasks was to get rid of the junkies around her building.

Darnell said, "It was all over the street corners here, when I opened this business.  And there would be dirty needles laying around and it became personal to me because I don't want my customers coming in with their dogs feeling like they're in danger coming into my business."

In less than two weeks, Darnell and more than 100 other committed, concerned residents came together to form an organization called "River Rats on Attack."  They organized after police Chief Randy Harvey admitted to Local 12 that his department and the justice system were simply overwhelmed with heroin cases to the point that he didn't know what to do.  Now his community will strive to come up with answers.

Terri Gribble, one of the groups organizers, explained, "We're gonna make it so uncomfortable for the drug dealers to be in here that they're gonna not want to be in here....plain and simple."

The "River Rats" said they were also searching for alternative treatment and counseling for those who want it.  Chief Harvey said the outpouring of support and the willingness of his community to help was refreshing and empowering.

"Initially it was all about enforcement and all about just locking up dealers and users.  And now people are beginning to see that's not what it's all about," said Harvey.

He even got support from some of the village heroin users!

"I've had some quite interesting conversations with these people and it's through that, it helps give me some direction on how I can help these people in this town," continued Chief Harvey.

The members of the group are attempting to restrict the group to just people who live and work in the village.  But certainly when it comes to resources, they'll gladly accept help from anyone.



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