Janesville32.8°

Top cops warn of heroin invasion

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
March 24, 2009
— Heroin is here, and tragedy will follow if we don’t act to stop it now.

That was the message Monday night from the leaders of the Janesville Police Department and Rock County Sheriff’s Office.


Dave Moore, acting police chief, and Sheriff Bob Spoden spoke to the Janesville School Board, asking the board to help educate staff and students about heroin.


“Part of our intelligence has shown that the drug of choice right now in Rock County is heroin,” Spoden said.


And that’s because it’s affordable and available, Spoden said.


Heroin is highly addictive and sometimes deadly, as local cases attest.


Most of the cases and arrests by the JPD’s Street Crimes Unit since Jan. 1 have been heroin-related, Moore said.


City police know of 12 heroin overdoses in the past year, including two deaths, Moore said.


The sheriff’s office knows of five overdoses, but that doesn’t count jurisdictions that have their own police, Spoden said.


Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach has told The Janesville Gazette she’s identified nine deaths she suspects are heroin-related since January 2008.


Moore said the addiction is so strong that arrests have little effect. The county lacks a detoxification facility, he said.


Moore said young adults just out of high school tend to experiment with heroin. Spoden said it could be anyone age 17 to 47 and from any walk of life.


After three or four experiences, they are addicted and need more, Moore said. Soon they need to support a $100-a-day habit.


Often, they turn to dealing the drug to support the habit. Or they turn to burglary and theft.


The purity of the heroin can vary. A dose that before got a user high might later be enough to kill him, Moore said.


Police officers who staff the Janesville middle and high schools have not seen any heroin, Moore said, but counselors have heard of it.


“I think it is safe to say it is very near to our schools,” Moore said.


Prescription painkillers—Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin—are leading many young people to heroin, Moore said.


Carrie Kulinski, coordinator of the district’s drug and alcohol programs, said surveys show the one drug that is on the rise among Janesville youth is prescription drugs. The surveys don’t ask about heroin.


Moore said he recently talked to a group of teens who seemed to know about marijuana, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, but they didn’t know much about the dangers of prescription drugs.


Kulinski said the school district is working on plans to raise awareness among students, staff and healthcare providers.


Law enforcement’s goal is to make it very difficult to sell heroin here, Spoden said.


“The worst thing we can do is to ignore it and put our heads in the sand,” because that will only make it worse, Spoden said.


School board President DuWayne Severson pledged the district’s support.



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