Ohio Opiate Conference honors first responders


COLUMBUS — At a statewide conference in Columbus, over 1,100 attendees participated in Ohio’s 2018 Opiate Conference: Strengthening Ohio’s Communities.

Professionals, individuals, and family members impacted by addiction to opiates and other drugs were in attendance to learn from local, state, and national leaders.


Cheri L. Walter, CEO of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities and conference host, introduced the conference by giving her perspective on the growing understanding of addiction in Ohio.

“This Conference is about hope and about what is working. We all know we have a serious epidemic on our hands. Now we are coming together and finding new and innovative ways to help address this epidemic and finding ways to help individuals move toward recovery.

During the luncheon CARES Awards were presented to four first responders who have been working on the front lines of the opioid epidemic in communities throughout Ohio.

The CARES Awards recipients were as follows.

Assistant Chief Mueller

Selected by the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association, Will Mueller is the Assistant Chief of Colerain Township’s Department of Fire and EMS.

Assistant Chief Mueller has led Colerain Township’s Department of Fire and EMS with a Quick Response Team (QRT), assisting people with opioid addictions to obtain access to treatment.

He has traveled the United States presenting to other communities on the subject and the QRT concept.

His commitment and dedication to the QRT program has resulted in many jurisdictions and agencies replicating the success of the Colerain Township.

Trooper Schell

Selected by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Chad Shell is a State Highway Patrol Trooper.

Schell was a graduate of the 153rd Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy class in 2013 and in 2015 was assigned to the Division’s Criminal Patrol Unit as a canine handler.

Trooper Schell earned the Division’s Criminal Patrol award four times. In 2017, Trooper Schell initiated 72 felony cases and arrested 89 suspects, which resulted in the seizure of 11 pounds of cocaine, eight pounds of heroin, 739 pills, one pound of methamphetamines, eight firearms and over $285,000 in drug proceeds.

Deputy Whaley

Selected by the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, Dennis Whaley is a Deputy Sheriff in Lucas County.

Whaley has had various assignments during his years of service in Lucas County including working in the Lucas County Corrections Center, serving as a deputy in the Toledo Municipal Court, and in 2015 he began working for the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office Drug Abuse Response Team (DART).

Deputy Whaley meets with overdose victims and their families. He transports those with a substance use disorder to effective local treatment centers, provides encouragement, monitors and engages the victims and their families as they progress through their treatment and recovery process.

Whaley has dealt with addiction in his family and was able to find help in a local support group by attending meetings, which has also developed his passion for those struggling with addiction.

He now coordinates and leads parent meetings in a local support group called S.A.F.E. (Supporting Addicts’ Families Everywhere).

Chief Ware

Selected by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, Robert Ware is the Chief of Policy of the Portsmouth Police Department in Scioto County.

Ware was selected as the 59th Chief of Police for the City of Portsmouth in December of 2012.

Ware’s police department has developed a targeted enforcement program in cooperation with the probation departments, the fire department, and the health department to combat drug trafficking in the neighborhoods, closing nuisance properties, and remediating abandoned houses that attract illicit behavior.

Ware also directed his department to develop mentoring programs in the schools where officers are encouraging children to live drug-free.

The Portsmouth PD has coordinated extensively with various social, medical, mental health, and court agencies to develop a means of giving individuals a chance of successful rehabilitation and recovery.


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