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Picture 22Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete and Caledonia Police Chief Toby Schey explained to the Caledonia Village Board that heroin use in Caledonia — not unlike Racine County and the nation — is on the rise.

And the problem is at a level that is the worst they’ve seen in their careers.

“This is a problem that is nationwide,” Chiapete said. “And it has affected Wisconsin at an unbelievable rate…. Trish will tell you that we talk to the medical examiner almost every week.”

In Racine County there were three heroin-related overdose deaths in 2008, but the number has risen to 12 in 2013.

Drug-related arrests — which includes heroin — have also increased significantly in Caledonia. In 2008, the department handled about 70 drug-related arrests. The department has handled over 140 from Jan. 1 through July 30.

“Most of the reason is because the drug is cheaper and more prevalent,” said Capt. Dan Warren, of the Caledonia Police Department. “The supply line is coming up from Mexico and unfortunately we’re just off of one of the direct routes.”

Racine County Deputy District Attorney Trish Hanson explained how her cousin overdosed on heroin in Racine when he was 29-years-old.

“He lived his whole life in Caledonia. He had every advantage of what you want to have,” Hanson said. “…but it wasn’t enough to overcome his addiction.”

Lt. Gary Larsen told the Village Board that one issue the department faces is that they don’t have a police officer in any of the schools in Caledonia, nor do they have a police presence on the Racine County Metro Drug Unit.

Village president Bob Bradley thanked the law enforcement officials that came out to give the presentation and told them that budget time was coming up and that the presentation would be part of the discussion in allocating resources.

Village board member Kevin Wanggaard asked Larsen if the department had tried to apply for grants, but Larsen said the department couldn’t qualify for grants because they didn’t already have any existing programs that qualified for the grant programs.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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