York County forms Heroin Task Force
For the past two years, FOX43 has been telling viewers about the alarming amount of heroin use in our community. The number of deaths has climbed so high that York County officials are fighting back through a newly formed Heroin Task Force.
So far this year, 31 people have died from heroin, with another five suspected. One of those suspected was discovered Thursday morning, September 11th.
“As we see the deaths rising, they are about to double soon, since last year. We just feel we can`t wait much longer,” said York County Coroner Pam Gay, who is a member of the Heroin Task Force.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dave Sunday is spear-heading the task force. “As a prosecutor, I am really sick and tired of seeing young people destroy their lives because of heroin and prescription drug abuse,” said Sunday. “What I saw was, there are so many people, very talented people in the community, that are working really hard on this in sort of their own separate silos.”
An alarming statistic, two of the Heroin deaths were 17-year-old kids who were still attending high school. That’s why a big focus of the task force is to do more frequent and detailed anti-drug education in schools. “We want to go to schools, we want to make sure that we can educate people, we want to educate children, we want to educate their parents. One of the things we discovered during this process, is that a lot of people, including parents, don’t understand what to look for,” said Sunday.
Help from Harrisburg
Lawmakers are getting involved too. A bill that Senator Scott Wagner supports would create a prescription drug database to track who is getting access to these drugs. Experts say abuse of prescription drugs can be a gateway to heroin use. Wagner is part of the task force and hopes to push lawmakers to pass, what he considers, vital bills. “This is not something that can wait until next year this is code red, sense of urgency, crisis situation, that we have going on. So I think that’s what we can do in Harrisburg,” said Sen. Scott Wagner, (R) 28th District.
Members of the Heroin Task Force include a wide-range of York County leaders and experts. From York County District Attorney Tom Kearney, members of State Police, various local police departments, Drug Task Force Agents, coroners, drug and recovery experts, Representative Mike Reagan, Senator Scott Wagner, and more.
Members of the Heroin Task Force plan hold two town hall meetings on the heroin epidemic; the dates have yet to be announced.