Training on Overdose Death Investigation and Prosecution


Ohio Attorney General’s Office



(WILMINGTON, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office partnered with the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI) to provide peace officers and prosecutors from across the state training on the investigation and prosecution of cases resulting from fatal opioid overdoses. Approximately 175 people attended the training at Southern State Community College in Wilmington.

“As part of our fight against opioids, we need to ensure prosecutors and law enforcement have the tools they need to safely and effectively investigate these crimes,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The training will help investigators and prosecutors better build their cases and hold opioid dealers accountable.”

The course covered basic drug overdose death investigation techniques, discussed legal requirements and issues involved in drug overdose death investigations, addressed drug safety awareness particular to opioids, and highlighted proper evidence-handling and protocols. The training also explored the criminal prosecution of these deaths as homicides and how such prosecutions can be used to address illegal drug distribution, punish wrongdoing, and, ultimately, save lives. The presenters included Dr. Kent Harshbarger, Montgomery County Coroner, who led a session entitled The Medical Examiner’s Perspective.

Unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of more than 4,000 Ohio residents last year, a 32.8 percent increase from 2016. Fentanyl, which is 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin, and related drugs, were involved in 58.2 percent of those deaths. In some cases, fatal overdoses resulting from the distribution of opioids are being investigated and prosecuted as homicides.

NAGTRI is the training and research arm of the National Association of Attorneys General. Its mission is to provide high-quality, responsive, innovative training to state and territorial attorney general offices.

Attorney General DeWine, a leader in the fight against opioids, has a 12 point plan to combat the epidemic. The Recovery Ohio Plan is available on his website at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. In addition, he has filed suit against Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva, Johnson & Johnson, and Allergan, the major manufacturers of opioids for allegedly disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids. He also filed a case against major opioid distributors for alleged unsafe distribution practices and failure to provide effective controls against opioid diversion.

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Ohio Attorney General’s Office