War On Drugs – Battling the Opioid Epidemic

James Mendrick – My Multi-Tiered Strategy for Battling the Opioid Epidemic

As Sheriff my first priority will be the opioid epidemic. Over the years I’ve heard others say that they’re going to wage a war on drugs, but the key to having success rests on having a meaningful and multi-tiered strategy for the war against drugs. We, at the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office do have some programs designed to combat drug use but according to the Coroner’s report, DuPage County suffered 95 opioid related deaths in 2017. To me that number is staggering. While we have had some successes, I believe we can do better. We need new ideas and strategies to add to what is already in place.

War On Drugs - Battling the Opioid Epidemic

Technology Upgrades

We need to enhance our technology. The unregulated internet, the dark web, is where a great deal of drug trafficking now takes place. When the deals are being made in cyber space, it only stands to reason that we need to invade that environment to catch the criminals. In today’s world, you either evolve your technology or become a victim of it. We can’t use 20th century strategies and technology for 21st century problems.

Expanding Our Canine Unit

Our canine unit should be expanded so we have a drug detection dog on each shift. This increases drug detection not only for the Sheriff’s Office, but they can assist the other thirty-two municipal police agencies within DuPage County. This will take dope off our streets and the asset seizures will take “bad guy” money to help fund our operations.

Unused Medication Disposal

Unused medications are a large source of drug abuse for our youths also. I will start a new program where residents can text or e-mail the Sheriff’s Office when they have medications they want to dispose of and we will send personnel to the home for collection and destruction. This is another way to take potentially harmful substances out of the hands of our children.

Parental Education

Parental education programs through the Sheriff’s Office would be another valuable tool. We need to work with families and help educate them about the drug culture and the signs of drug use. I’m also working with the Illinois Save a Child’s Life Network. This group targets children from 6th grade through high school and offers incentives through a “Gold Star Achievement Award” to be drug free. If parents authorize their children to accept random drug testing, and they remain clean, they will be given assistance with college entry, employment opportunities and various gifts from local businesses. This will begin building a drug free generation of children.

Diversion, education, technology and enforcement combined is the only way to have a true impact on this crisis. I will make this my first priority and together we will make a difference.

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