Ohio Police Respond to an Opioid Crisis

Photographs by Benjamin Lowy

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An Ohio Police Department Battles an Epidemic

The town of East Liverpool, Ohio, came to national attention last year when its police department released a startling photo of four-year-old boy in the backseat of a car, while his grandmother and her partner were in the front seats, unconscious from a heroin overdose. The photo went viral, but it's only one case amid the epidemic of opioid addiction sweeping across the state. The Ohio Department of Health reported that 3,050 people died in 2015 from accidental drug overdoses, 500 more than in 2014. Eighty-five percent of overdoses last year were caused by some kind of opioid.

Photographer Benjamin Lowy recently spent time with members of the East Liverpool Police Department as they worked checkpoints and responded to calls around the city.

East Liverpool seems "depressed," said Lowy. "All the shops have closed up, there's hardly any storefronts there. You don't see a lot of people on the streets at all and it seems like a town in decline."

With a population of 11,000, East Liverpool doesn't afford one much anonymity. Citizens will often address cops, many of whom grew up in the town, by their first names while on patrol. One officer Lowy met said his interest in athletics made him steer clear of drugs, but he knew many peers who succumbed to addiction.

"Half the people who he was pulling over were people he went to high school with," Lowy says. "He put people that were his friends in prison."

The full set of images is available on the main Getty Images website.