MAP: Heroin Arrests, Overdoses in Downers Grove
Downers Grove police shared a detailed map last week of heroin arrests, medical cases and overdose deaths in 2011 and 2012.
If there's one thing the Downers Grove police have learned about heroin over the past two years, it's that it doesn't discriminate—not by gender, age, race, or even location.
During the department's first-ever heroin forum at Downers Grove North High School last week, Officers Scott Buzecky and Michael Eddy of the Downers Grove Police Department Tactical Unit shared statistics about the drug's presence in the community.
Prior to the event, officers compiled the department's heroin-related incidents over the past two years, and plotted the results on a map, which is displayed above.
"From what we're seeing in Downers Grove, the use of heroin is spread throughout the entire town," Buzecky said. "It's not just the north side or the south side, or one particular area of town."
Based on their research, the officers found they are arresting the same amount of people, but have seen an increase in the number of medical calls and overdoses.
In 2011, there were 17 arrests for heroin possession, four medical cases and three overdose deaths, Buzecky said. This year, there have been 13 arrests for possession, five medical cases and four overdose deaths.
Buzecky said the department's investigations and medical cases show that most heroin users in Downers Grove are between the ages of 18 and 25, which is on par with the national average. Users vary in gender, race, education background and income level.
Heroin retails for about $10 a bag, making it a cheap and accessible high.
"The drug is affordable for a first-time user or someone who is pressured by peers to use it," Buzecky said. "It's not until somebody starts using multiple bags—five, ten, fifteen bags a day—that it gets to where it's out of control and they're not able to afford it. It's at that point we see a lot of users living a life of crime to try to support their habit."
Last week's community forum was prompted by the "alarming rise" in heroin-related incidents both in Downers Grove and DuPage County as a whole according to Downers Grove Police Chief Robert Porter.
The event featured a panel of guest speakers—including DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin, DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group (DUMEG) Director Matt Gainer and a representative from the Robert Crown Center for Health Education. The panel discussed everything from statistics and law enforcement strategies to health effects and methods of prevention.
"(Heroin) is not unique to Downers Grove. This is happening in communities all across the state," he said. "Any community that thinks they're immune to the problem needs to take another look, because it's there and you need to address it head on, which is exactly what we're doing here in Downers Grove."
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