GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Department of Justice is giving the Green Bay Police Department a $25,000 grant to help fight heroin abuse across Brown County.
The Green Bay P.D. is the first local law enforcement agency of four which will earn the grants through an application process, after sending the DOJ a plan to deal with this growing issue.
"Our initiative is collaboration between public agencies, private businesses and entities to develop and implement comprehensive community responses to the problem associated with opiate and heroin abuse," says Green Bay Police Chief Tom Molitor. "We will use the framework on a four-pillar model, prevention, treatment, enforcement and reduction of harm."
With resources and representatives from each of the “four pillars”, the department has created an action plan to address heroin abuse and its impact, and is hiring a project coordinator to spearhead its implementation and ensure its success.
For the last several years, heroin trafficking and heroin use have risen dramatically throughout Wisconsin.
According to the DOJ, 22 counties in 2005 submitted heroin cases to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab. By 2011, the number of counties submitting heroin cases increased to 37. In 2012, 56 counties – representing every part of Wisconsin -- were making heroin submissions to the lab.
“I’m proud to stand with the people of Green Bay as they proactively confront heroin abuse. This grant is the first of several that will be awarded throughout the state," says Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "Through these grants, and a public information campaign to be launched in the fall, the Department of Justice is committed to reducing heroin use and heroin deaths in Green Bay and every other community in Wisconsin.”
Northeast Wisconsin businesses are concerned about the rise in heroin abuse and addiction.
"We have a very vibrant workforce, a growing workforce and heroin addiction and prescription drug abuse works against us," says Marinette Marine Corporation Vice President of Human Resources Steve Baue. "What addiction means is a loss of productivity, absenteeism and most importantly, we have unsafe employees who are putting others at risk."
Baue says that the "Heroin Response Initiative" will help businesses deal with addiction for employees and their families. It'll allow them access to programs in order to avoid firing someone who fails a drug test.
"There isn't an employer I have spoken to that has not had to deal with addiction one way or another," says Baue. "Sometimes a small employer doesn't have the resources the larger employers do, so part of this initiative is to arm them with the tools, give them the techniques to have those conversations with employees."
Baue reiterates their goal, as being part of the overall community, is to stop this epidemic and prevent it from happening.