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Initiative Against Heroin Abuse

Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, center, announces Tuesday a new Porter County Heroin Overdose Response Team initiative at the Porter County Sheriff's Department. At left is United States Attorney for the Northern District David Capp, and Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel at right. 

David Capp, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, speaks Tuesday at the Porter County Sheriff's Department as officials announced the formation of the Porter County Law Enforcement Heroin Overdose Response Team. At far right are Sheriff David Reynolds and Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel.

Portage Police Chief Troy Williams signs a memorandum of understanding Tuesday at a news conference announcing the formation of a Porter County Law Enforcement Heroin Overdose Response Team initiative. Police from nine county communities are part of the team that will work collaboratively with the law enforcement community to track all heroin overdoses. At left is Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel, and Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris is at right.

Porter County officials announce initiative against heroin abuse

January 28, 2015 Sara Gollner NWI.com

VALPARAISO | Porter County authorities pledged Tuesday to step up efforts to investigate all heroin overdoses and share information with other agencies.

Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds announced at a news conference Tuesday an initiative in which all Porter County law enforcement offices will follow the same procedures when handling overdose cases, both fatal and non-fatal.

The mission, officials said, is to investigate drug overdoses by identifying, targeting, arresting, and prosecuting individuals and organizations responsible for providing illegal drugs that result in death or serious physical injury.

"We want to make sure everyone is doing the same thing," said Sgt. Larry LaFlower, Porter County Sheriff's Department public information officer. 

This effort will involve all city and town police departments, the Porter County's prosecutors office, the Porter County drug unit and Porter County's coroner's office, as well as representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Attorney's Office and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

These organizations will work together to investigate every overdose case in hopes to locate the source of the substances.

"The goal of this task force is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the overdose deaths that we know are happening anywhere between every one to every two weeks in Porter County," said Ryan Holmes, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Indiana.

Information from these investigations will be analyzed by the DEA and HIDTA, which will share it with the Porter County Drug Task Force. These cases will be recorded by the Heroin Overdose Response Teams and disseminated to the appropriate agency.

"Our No. 1 objective is to ascertain the source of the heroin and put a stop to it," Reynolds said.

Accepted protocols have been approved by the head of each law enforcement agency with the understanding that cooperation and feedback are paramount for success, Reynold said.

David Capp, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, said he's heard talk of implementing a similar procedure in the past, and this initiative should serve as a model for other counties in northern Indiana.

"A heroin scene is a crime scene," Capp said. "There are many, many potential evidentiary leads that we can glean from an overdose scene. It doesn't matter where it happens, it has to be looked at and handled the same way."

"There are over 200 years of administrative and investigatory experience here today," Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said. "This group has the ability to dictate policy and direction for its respective departments and is another example of committed law enforcement professionals working for the betterment of our communities. Heroin is an epidemic and we are all determined to make a significant dent in that struggle."

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