Cleveland council meets to discuss heroin epidemic - WNEM TV 5

Cleveland council meets to discuss heroin epidemic

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Cleveland City Council discuss heroin epidemic. Cleveland City Council discuss heroin epidemic.

It's no secret there's a heroin problem in Northeast Ohio.

The question is, what do we do about it?

The Cleveland City Council Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday was filled with judges, prosecutors, police chiefs, health care professionals and more.

More people died last year in Cuyahoga County from heroin overdoses than anything else except natural causes, a total of 195

"We are not going to be able to arrest our way out of this problem," said U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach.

This committee meeting handled everything from prosecution, treatment and where it's coming from.

"You know there's no poppy fields in Parma, and there's no coco leaves in Collinwood," Dettelbach said. "So, by definition these substances are coming from outside our community and they're coming courtesy of the Mexican cartels."

Believe it or not Cuyahoga County has been getting ready for this surge for at least two years.

"Our guys have recognized the problem coming our way and have put things in place to deal with it," said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams.

Both the city and the county have what's called drug courts for those arrested that focus more on treatment than incarceration.

"We need more beds," said Judge David Matia. "I have to keep people in county jail sometime two-to-three weeks, because there aren't treatment beds available. Why do I keep them in jail? Because they're likely to overdose when they go out and die."

Community campaigns are now kicking into high gear, with commercials and billboards soon to be all over the county.

Perhaps the biggest piece of this is that the state is asking for funding for 1,000 more beds for treatment.

If passed, Cuyahoga County would get 110. 

Copyright 2014 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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