Heroin, the growing crisis sweeping our county

FrankEver since the justice levy for the county was voted down in 2012, the community has held an ongoing discussion about crime, prevention, funding, and what the ‘right’ levels should be.  While we try to work out a solution that improves the situation, restores a sustainable level of justice system presence in the county, and doesn’t break the budget there is no question crime has risen significantly across the county.

There is a segment of the population that is capitalizing on the lack of enforcement and lack of sheriff presence.  There is also a growing segment of the population falling prey to an alarming rise in drug-related crimes, either by getting caught in the cycle of addiction, or as victims of those addicts.  Without law enforcement, prosecution, or local treatment facilities, the drug problem in our area is growing at an accelerating rate.

Stephen Campbell from the DA’s office provided the following sobering statistics in trending over the past three years for case type of Herion (Defined as criminal charges that are not limited to, but include, drug charges and heroin had some influence on the case.)

11/26/12 to 11/25/13 = 119 cases  385% increase over last year (That’s a Heroin case EVERY 3 DAYS)
11/26/11 to 11/25/12 = 31 cases   61% increase over the previous year.
11/26/10 to 11/25/11 = 19 cases

(Note:  Sometimes they are unaware if drugs play a part in a case, so if anything, the stats are low.)

If we narrow the scope further to look at cases where the criminal charges specifically include the word Heroin, the picture resolves into even sharper focus:

11/26/12 to 11/25/13 = 67 cases  830% increase over last year
11/26/11 to 11/25/12 = 8 cases
11/26/10 to 11/25/11 = 7 cases

The stats where the charge included “heroin” includes all charges where the drug was found (either possessed, delivered, or manufactured).

This trend simply cannot be allowed to continue.  If left unchecked, the results would prove disastrous to the ongoing health of the county.

Other stats gathered from the Sheriff’s office, the GP police department, and the State Police over the past year have all shown consistent upward trends in many crimes such as car and home break-ins and theft, many of which are triggered by the need to pay for drugs.

There are no easy solutions to the question of how much law enforcement do we need, and how are we going to pay for it.  It is clear however that the drug issue is a piece of the puzzle we can no longer ignore.

One part of the solution, in addition to better enforcement and better education, may be the establishment of a treatment center. SOS, in partnership with local doctors, is spear-heading the effort to establish such a center in Grants Pass.  (See MAT-C Committee for more details or to volunteer).

If anyone in the community has additional recommendations to help find solutions, please join the discussion and get involved.  Only together can we find the answers.

Our community is worth fighting for.

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