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Our Local Heroin Addiction

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Task force to deal with heroin planned in Centre Co.


Reported By: Gary Sinderson
Written By: Marc Stempka

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The affect heroin has in communities across the area continues to grow, and with the drug's ongoing abuse in the Centre region, some leaders have revived talks of forming a heroin task force in Centre County.

Centre County administrators said Tuesday they had a meeting last week on the formation of a task force that would pull together resources of local law enforcement, the court system and human service agencies to look at new approaches to fighting heroin abuse.

Centre County Commissioner Steve Dershem said so far the cooperation between agencies is working well.

"We're still gathering data and getting the statistics sort of fleshed out to make sure we approach this with the right minds eyes," Dershem said. "I think we got buy in from just about all the corners, from law enforcement and the judiciary. I know our office is concerned."

County leaders said one of the biggest challenges is getting an increasing number of drug abusers into some type of rehabilitation.

In order to do that, Centre County Administrator Tim Boyde said it means shifting money from other human service agency budgets.

"We moved over somewhere, I would guess that number is going to be somewhere, between $65,000 and $95,000 to address the increased demand," Boyde said.

The scope and specifics of what the task force would address is among the details that need to be worked out, officials said. If nothing else, the task force would raise awareness, according to State College Police Chief Tom King.

"It's just something we need to get out to the public, how dangerous the heroin is, how dangerous heroin always has been," King said. "Now the fact is it may also be more powerful or lethal because there could be other products with the heroin."

Information from the county coroner's office showed the number of heroin-related overdoses doubled from 2012 to 2013.

Officials said that heroin isn't the only problem in the county, but substance abuse across the board continues to be on the increase.

Task force to deal with heroin planned in Centre Co.

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