Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jan 2017
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2017 Journal Sentinel Inc.
Author: Ashley Luthern


Federal and local authorities announced on Wednesday that Milwaukee has
been chosen to take part in a new $2 million comprehensive strategy led by
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to prevent opioid misuse, heroin
abuse and violent crime.

The "360 Degree Strategy" will strengthen partnerships among health care
professionals, social service organizations and government service
agencies to provide long-term help and support to create drug-free
communities, said Dennis A. Wichern, special agent in charge at the DEA's
Chicago Field Division.

"The goal is to see what works and what doesn't work when we try these
different partnerships," Wichern said.

The $2 million will be divided among the four cities chosen as pilot
locations: Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, St. Louis and West Memphis, Ark. The
funds primarily will go to prevention efforts -- such as the DEA's Youth
Dance Team -- and not additional law enforcement, Wichern said.

Officials say they will use a three-prong approach of enforcement
(targeting drug traffickers and gangs), diversion control (engaging
medical professionals in responsible prescribing of opioid medications)
and community outreach (educating the public about the dangers of heroin
abuse and guiding those already addicted to treatment).

"When you're saying 360, you're going to try to to connect as many of
these vital institutions in the community as possible," said Milwaukee
County District Attorney John Chisholm. "And you're going to put a
priority on preventing this path that leads to addiction and other
criminal activity."

Wichern said he views the strategy as an extension of efforts already
underway in Wisconsin, including Attorney General Brad Schimel's "Dose of
Reality" campaign and regional summits convened by Common Council
President Michael Murphy.

"Everyone here has made this problem, this epidemic, a priority," Schimel
said at the news conference.

In 2015, at least 108 people died from heroin-related drug overdoses in
Milwaukee County, according to the county medical examiner's office.

Those deaths are included in the 250 fatal drug overdose cases in 2015.
Data for last year is still preliminary. Another 20 overdose cases are
still pending the results of toxicology tests.

In 2014, 119 people died from heroin-related overdoses, marking a 72%
increase compared to 2013.
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