From the Wausau Police Department
There is a story of a City Council representative from Middletown, Ohio, who wants their legal department to investigate if there is a legal obligation to respond to repeat opiate overdose patients. He wants the community to consider NOT responding to a 911 overdose call if the person overdosing has been saved twice before. The reason: to save money.
The heroin epidemic is one of the most significant public health concerns of our time. We are expending significant money and resources on trying to curb the impact of heroin. Wausau Police and Fire respond regularly to heroin overdoses. Officers in our area regularly make arrests for heroin possession and heroin sales, other community organizations are working diligently to provide resources and help to addicts. These costs are not insignificant.
It is very difficult to recover from opiate addiction. Families who have loved ones addicted live in a constant state of fear that their loved one might soon die, yet they are also angry at the way in which the addict treats them (stealing, lying, cheating, etc). No different than many communities our size, we are short on addiction recovery resources and we are having difficulty getting a grasp on the epidemic.
This is a difficult problem, but that does not mean that we should treat heroin/opiate addicts as throwaways. There is inherent value in every human life. These people with heroin addiction are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents, and friends. We cannot let frustration or anger at the addiction blur our view of these individuals as human beings. Addiction can be a devastating disease. We see it with drugs (including heroin) alcohol, food, tobacco, and many other things. There is a significant public cost to many of these addictions.
We also expend significant resources on other recurring issues. We spend time responding repetitively to domestic violence incidents involving the same people, mental health issues, and alcohol-addiction issues. There is no expectation or thought that we should stop responding to these types of incidents because we have been there in the past. The same should be true for those who are addicted to heroin. There is a significant stigma associated with heroin use and addiction. It’s difficult to focus on the person rather than focusing on the addiction. But it’s imperative we aim to see these addicts as people who have inherent value.
Our Mission: The Wausau Police Department strives for excellence and partners with our community to enhance the quality of life.
Our Core Values: Professionalism, Accountability, Integrity, Respect
As an agency that has a laser-focus on mission and believes strongly in core values, we work diligently to partner with other organizations and individuals in our community to solve problems and make our community a better place for everyone. We definitely don’t have all the answers nor do we have the resources to fix every problem. Our focus is to make a positive impact in the lives of others one call at a time and one person at a time. Simultaneously, we are working to build a vast network of problem solvers with community partners to look for additional resources and possible solutions to the problems that exist in our community.
If you call, we will respond. We will treat you with respect and compassion. We will do our best to help in any way possible. We will give you our best. We will continue to work 24/7/365 to build a stronger community.
What are your thoughts on this issue?
Editor’s note: This column was posted with permission by the Wausau Police Department. Submit letters to the editor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.