DIXON, Ill. -- Chief Danny Langloss, along with the Lee County Sheriff's Department and the Whiteside County Sheriff's Department announce that the two counties will host a Law Enforcement Opioid Summit to formulate proactive community strategies to tackle the heroin epidemic in their jurisdictions.
In the last month, the Sauk Valley area police departments -- Dixon, Sterling and Rock Falls -- are investigating what are believed to be four heroin overdose deaths. Three of the deaths occurred in Whiteside County (Sterling and Rock Falls) and one in Lee County (Dixon).
The Summit will look at ways police agencies in surrounding communities can collaborate to help those suffering from the disease of addiction. Leaders will come together to focus on how to attack the supply side of the drug problem through aggressive enforcement while reducing the demand through proactive community strategies.
"We are very excited to work together and partner with the law enforcement agencies in Whiteside County," Dixon Police Chief Langloss said. "Drug dealers are not restricted by city or county borders. They are moving freely between our communities, so we must share information and form joint strategies to address the supply side of heroin while employing new strategies to erase demand."
In the past two years, Whiteside County has had 26 reported deaths related to heroin. This is the equivalent to one heroin overdose death every 28 days.
"One death is too many, and this trend is deeply disturbing," said Rock Falls Police Chief Tammy Nelson. "As public safety officials, we have to change the way we look at this epidemic to stop this pattern and save lives."
Dixon Police and the Lee County Sheriff's Department have already begun tackling this issue. On Sept. 1, the two law enforcement groups launched The Safe Passage Initiative: Police Giving Hope to Addicts Through the Tools For Recovery, an addiction recovery initiative aimed at encouraging addicts to seek the help of police officers and sheriff’s deputies, who will in turn get them into treatment.
As part of the summit, police will discuss bringing Whiteside County on as a new partner in The Safe Passage Initiative. To date, 30 people have been placed directly into treatment through the program. Nearly all have been placed in treatment in under two hours.
"It is exciting to think about the possibility of Whiteside County becoming a partner in the Safe Passage Initiative," Dixon Police Chief Langloss said. "Our hope is to combat this issue together."
"We knew we had to make a change to assist our residents and today, three months into Safe Passage, we are making a difference," added Lee County Sheriff John Simonton. "Now we must expand these resources to our neighboring police departments to ensure citizens in every community can get the help they need to recover from their addiction."
The summit will take place in the coming weeks. More details on the meeting will be released as they become available.