As your next Sheriff of Will County, I would like to introduce my comprehensive plan to combat the current heroin/opioid epidemic that plagues our Will County Communities.
After researching the efforts of nearby local, state, and federal agencies and incorporating their strategies with what I feel would be most useful within our communities, I am offering my Prevention, Education, and Treatment (PET) project, which includes the HERO and HOPE programs.
Because of the on-going opioid crisis in Will County and throughout the State and Country, blue collar crimes are rapidly on the rise. Crimes such as thefts, burglaries, and assaults are often committed by narcotics users to support their addictions. My doctoral research has shown that close to 50% of criminal behaviors and arrests involve persons with substance use or substance use disorders.
My administration will aggressively target the drug dealers who victimize users and cause the devastating loss of family members and loved ones due to overdose deaths.
I will reorganize the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) to an in-house tactical response team and narcotics unit. This specialized team will be expanded and designed to rapidly respond to criminal activities throughout our county while investigating, targeting, and pin-pointing enforcement efforts to address narcotics sales. I will use my extensive narcotics experience to oversee and encourage support from local and federal agencies who can offer additional resources to target offenders. I have seen firsthand how multi-jurisdictional investigations can lead to success.
I will also introduce and implement a Narcotics Interdiction Team, that will work closely with our K-9 partners and target narcotics trafficking on our local and state roadways. I am highly confident that a resource to address homeland security threats, identifying criminal activities linked to narcotics sales while locating large caches of money and drugs.
As your Sheriff, I will restore and rebuild an extensive criminal intelligence database which has not been supported by the current administration. The lack of a reliable criminal intelligence database has significantly reduced the ability of our department members to conduct thorough investigations.
Heroin, Education, and Resource Officers (HERO’s) will consist of selected law enforcement supervisors, staff, enforcement deputies, and correctional deputies who will be educated and trained in identifying narcotics, narcotics use, and narcotics sales and enforcement efforts. The Will County Sheriff’s Office will support the HOPE agenda by offering assistance as a consequence of their narcotics use or addictions. The goal of this administration will be to have this team of specially educated and trained officers ready to respond to every call for service regarding a potential overdose.
The Heroin, Opioid, Prevention, and Education (HOPE) agenda will become policy for Will County Sheriff’s Deputies to perform the following tasks when responding to a call for service regarding any potential narcotics overdose: (Follow policy, procedures and immediate medical care first) then:
1) Supply victim and family or household members HOPE pamphlet along with case number and responding deputies name and badge number. Included in the HOPE pamphlet will be available resources and support programs which can offer the victim options for recovery.
2) Offer NARCAN assistance program and contact information.
3) Offer any assistance, such as contacting family or support members and providing transportation if viable and not transported by medical personnel.
4) Confirm victim has a working, activated cell phone or landline in which 911 can be contacted for assistance.
5) Always suggest that overdose victims be treated and transported for evaluation by responding medical personnel.
I look forward to working closely with our State’s Attorney’s Office and fully supporting the policy of assigning non-violent offenders charged with drug possession to the Drug Treatment court when possible. The diversion of drug possession cases to this successful alternative sentencing program has yielded many successes and has proven to be an effective strategy to reduce recidivism amongst drug offenders. It will always remain our goal to assist non-violent drug offenders to resume a healthy lifestyle, return to their families, and become productive members of our communities.
My administration will pursue grant monies that are available from the federal and state governments, to help defer the costs of implementing training, education, and enforcement efforts to reduce the burden of these new programs on Will County taxpayers. These efforts are only the beginning of my commitment to combat the heroin epidemic. As a life-long learner, I understand the need to continually evaluate, improve, and oversee these programs and their effectiveness at saving innocent lives and preventing future deaths relating to drug overdose.