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Lake County will track heroin overdoses with database to stop Good Samaritan law loophole

Posted at 4:41 PM, Mar 22, 2017

News 5 discovered the loophole and is still tracking Ohio's Good Samaritan law, in the middle of the snowballing heroin epidemic.

The law is part of a statewide effort to save lives - by granting a 911 caller, and a person who overdoses on heroin, immunity.

Illegal drug users in Ohio can walk away from an overdose, where they are saved by first responders, twice. After two bites of the immunity apple, they can be charged or arrested. 

RELATED: Ohio's Good Samaritan Law: Loophole may allow drug users to slip through the cracks

But police departments and sheriff's offices across Greater Cleveland have told News 5 the law is tricky to enforce because the state isn't keeping track of overdoses. There's no statewide database for heroin overdose. Hence - the loophole. 

In Lake County, the Sheriff's Department is trying to do something about it. 

Detective Ron Walters told News 5 the lack of a database makes enforcing the law nearly impossible.

"Information sharing is how we are gonna beat this problem. We aren't going to beat this not sharing information," he said.

Detective Walters helped the Drug Task Force create their own county-wide database. 

"The law came down from the state, but you guys, a county sheriff's department, have to create a database and do all of this on your own, just to implement that law, right?" "Correct," he answered. 

Detective Walters said he's confident the database will make enforcing The Good Samaritan law and following up with repeat offenders possible.

But, he said, a statewide database would be helpful.

"It would be very helpful to have a state database I think. The state has put all these requirements on us. Put a database in effect," he said. 

Right now, about half the cities in Lake County are contributing to that database - the Sheriff's office is till trying to get everyone on board. 

While their database is helpful, the loophole still exists. If someone overdoses outside county lines, there's still no way to track that. 

"We are trying to do it countywide, but who knows! They could have been in Cuyahoga or Lorain," Detective Walters said.