Greg interviews Captain Michael Shearer, Captain of the Akron Police Department Narcotics Division. Captain Shearer has spent 25 years on the police force, in various roles. He has been Captain of the Police Department since 2005. Akron has experienced a tragic spike in heroin overdoses this summer. In July, first responder calls went from 2 a day to 11 a day. Greg asks Captain Shearer how the department has dealt with this influx of overdoses and what the department is doing to make a difference.
Former addicts have said that getting arrested was the best thing that ever happened to them. Captain Shearer talks about how arrest can lead to recovery. “Arrest forces some people to get treatment. To get into a program. To get into drug court. To start them down a path of full-time recovery… They hit rock bottom and realize they need something else in their life and they need to make a change.”
Captain Shearer’s team is focused on arresting the individuals causing the addiction, the opioid dealers. He talks about how people being arrested for opioid possession can really help the police department. “There’s an opportunity for them to work and not necessarily erase their charges, but get them into a drug treatment program. It’s very beneficial to the police department… We really don’t want to arrest the abuser, the addict. We really want to go after the actual drug trafficker. That’s really who we want. That’s the ultimate goal.”
The recent increase in heroin overdoses have been hard on the department. Captain Shearer discusses why the overdoses are overwhelming to his already busy police force. “You have officers that are in patrol cars that answer calls for service all day long. Now they have the demand of responding to heroin overdose calls. So now the demand is put on them, even more, to respond to additional calls,” says Captain Shearer, “You have detectives now coming out to start an investigation, so it’s taking them away from additional cases that they are working on. Their work load is through the roof right now.”
Captain Michael Shearer has spent his entire life living and working in the City of Akron. He graduated from Kenmore High School and attended the University of Akron prior to joining the Akron Police Department in 1991. During his 25 years of service with the police department, he has worked in the Uniformed Subdivision, the Investigative Subdivision and currently oversees the Akron Police Department’s Narcotics, Vice, and Gang Units. He spent 21 years on the SWAT Team, and Commanded the SWAT Team for 14 years. He is also a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership College (PELC) and the Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE).