The Portsmouth, Ohio, Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol ranked third among posts in the state in drug arrests in 2008, behind Stark and Franklin counties. Considering the location of the county and the makeup of its population, this news will likely startle many readers. Stark County made 214 drug arrests followed by Franklin County with 209 and Scioto County with 193. In fact, the relatively similar numbers of drug arrests in Ohio's top three counties may concern Southern Ohio residents even more. It certainly leaves Scioto residents scratching their heads in disbelief.
Portsmouth Post Commander Lt. Mike Crispen said that he believes the reason for so many successful arrests can be partly attributed to the nature of people employed at the post. Crispen said, “We have a very large makeup at this post of employees who grew up in this area, and who know the people in the community, and who know the problems of the community. Some of the other Patrol posts don’t have that luxury at times, especially if they don’t have the problems in their counties that we have here with drugs.” In this sense, close monitoring has paid dividends.
Crispen, when asked why a rural county such as Scioto ranks high in arrests with metropolitan areas such as Franklin County, stated, “There’s always the age-old factors such as the socio-economic system, jobs, and things of that nature, and it being a depression-area at time.” He felt it was hard to get a grasp on exactly why the problem exists to such a degree in Scioto County.
Another factor may simply be the location of the county. Crispen said a lot of drug dealers come from Columbus and Detroit and pass through Scioto County on their way to Huntington to deal drugs.“They can make more money selling some of their stuff down here than they can in Columbus,” he added.
According to Crispen, pills have been on the rise a lot lately. He believes that the accessibility of pills is pretty significant to the high statistic — whether obtained illegally or as by prescription.
I lack the knowledge to explain fully the prevalence of drug problems in Scioto County, where many consider relatively safe, low-crime conditions exist. In fact, I find it hard to believe the money to purchase large quantities of drugs flows in an environment hit hard by poverty and joblessness. Yet, it seems that misery loves company. The rural makeup of Scioto only adds to the paradox. Many parents here in Scioto County, for example, worry about their children encountering crime as they move to urban areas in the state to take jobs and to pursue college educations.
We must acknowledge that desperate people seek desperate measures. I am sure the educational level of the residents comes into play. Addictions thrive in areas full of lost hopes and low on knowledge. Promises of quick money surely tempt many poverty level inhabitants. I would love to read research on per capita money spent on various expenditures such as lottery tickets, cigarettes, and alcohol across the state. Such purchases here are staggering I am sure.
At present, the drug arrest statistics do show a positive side. Law enforcement must be pretty strict in the county considering the population is 79,195 (2000 census). The old home values and standards may be changing, but, at least, the authorities are attempting to stem negative influences with good success rates.