By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) - Pictures taken by a small-town Ohio police department showing a couple allegedly overdosed on heroin in their car, the woman's son ignored in the back, circulated widely on social media on Friday as evidence of an epidemic in use of the drug.
The images were posted on the Facebook page of the East Liverpool, Ohio Police Department, along with an officer's report of the incident that led to the arrest of James Acord and Rhonda Pasek on child endangerment charges.
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"We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis," the police department said in a statement on the Facebook page.
"The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it's gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that," the department said.
The photos show Acord, 50, and Pasek, 47, passed out in the front seat of their Ford Explorer, their mouths agape, as the child stares silently into the camera from the back.
The post had generated 20,000 shares and nearly 3,000 comments as of Friday afternoon, about 24 hours later.
According to a police report posted along with the pictures, an officer driving his personal vehicle approached Acord's car after seeing it weaving erratically back and forth before drifting to a stop in the roadway.
Officer Kevin Thompson wrote that Acord, whose head was "bobbing back and forth", his speech almost unintelligible, told him he was taking Pasek to the hospital and attempted to drive away before falling completely unconscious.
Pasek was also unconscious and turning blue, the officer wrote. Both were revived by emergency medical technicians using several rounds of a drug used to reverse an opiate overdose, according to Thompson's report.
The officer said that a folded up piece of paper found between Pasek's legs contained a small amount of a pink, powdery substance.
Acord was arrested on suspicion of endangering a child and a traffic offense. Pasek was taken into custody on child endangerment and public intoxication charges. The boy was taken into the custody of county child protection services agents.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by James Dalgleish)