West Metro Cities Host Forum on Heroin Abuse
Five West Metro cities are joining law enforcement and school districts to fight a growing drug problem. Cheap and deadly heroin is the substance causing the most concern.
The Cities of Minnetonka Beach, Minnetrista, Mound, Orono and Spring Park, along with Westonka and Orono School districts are hosting a forum Thursday night called, "Heroin: It is in Our Community." It is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. At the Gillespie Center, 2590 Commerce Blvd. in Mound.
Presenters and a panel of law enforcement officers, city and school leaders, will talk about heroin and prescription drug abuse and awareness.
"It's available, it's cheap and its purity is a much higher purity than we've seen before," said Mound Police Chief Dean Mooney, referring to the dangers associated with heroin.
Mooney compares it to a marketing plan.
"Our kids in this community, our young people, have a target on their backs from drug dealers and drug pushers because they are the most vulnerable," Mooney said.
The West Metro heroin problem hit Mound Mayor Mark Hanus personally.
"My daughter is a heroin addict, and is in treatment. I can tell you that this creeps up on you so fast that you don't even know it's happened until it is too late," Hanus said.
Hanus' daughter Emily was charged with burglary this May with two other people, after allegedly trying to steal her parents' car to buy heroin.
"As a parent the last thing you want to do is prosecute your own child, but having gone through previous episdoes we ddint think that there was any other choice," Hanus said.
Last year, the West Metro Drug Task force made 48 arrests. They seized more than $5 million dollars in illegal drugs; but police say they cannot solve the problem alone.
"We're not going to arrest our way out of this problem," Mooney said.
"If you don't get a handle on it, if you let it go unchecked, the community can suffer in various ways," Hanus said.
A report from the Department of Human Services shows one in five people admitted to addiction treatment programs last year went in for heroin or other opiates, second only to alcohol. 84 deaths in Hennepin County and 36 in Ramsey County were linked to heroin or other opiates.