Updated: 04/11/2014 12:58 PM
Created: 04/11/2014 10:38 AM KSTP.com
By: Megan Stewart
An emergency meeting to address the growing concern of heroin in the community has been called by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.
The town hall forum will take place next Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park. The county saw the highest number of heroin-related deaths in 2013, with a total of 56.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said the reason for the urgent meeting stemmed from the number of heroin-related deaths so far this year.
"We are calling this an emergency because we've had 17 deaths through March this year," Johnson said. "Compared to the 11 at this time last year, we are on schedule to beat our record-breaking numbers in 2013."
Several leaders in Hennepin County, including police chiefs in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, along with Drug Enforcement Administration officers and doctors from Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation will speak at the meeting.
One reason listed on the flyer is "how the issue is connected to your medicine cabinet." Johnson said because of the rise in opiate prescription drug abuse, heroin has become a popular second choice for users because it is cheaper and easy to get in the Twin Cities.
Officials in Hennepin County are not the only ones recognizing the problem. On Tuesday, a bill aimed at putting an antidote to heroin and opiate overdoses in the hands of more first responders in Minnesota passed unanimously in the state Senate.
Johnson said the county is planning on scheduling more meetings in the future to continue to inform the public.