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St. Louis County Bracing for More Heroin Deaths

Megan Lynch
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CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) – KMOX News recently brought you a startling look at the heroin epidemic in the St. Louis region.  As we head into summer, police are bracing for more deaths.

“We have not hit the peak here,” warns St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch.  “I fully expect by the end of the year we will have 120 or more deaths from heroin in the county.  We had 60 last year.”

As Fitch spoke with KMOX, he flipped through a police report from Sunday.  A 23-year-old white male from Alton, Illinois, found dead in a hotel bathroom in North St. Louis County.   “There were other heroin users with him that suspected that he was dying and threw water on him and tried to resuscitate him, but they were under the influence of heroin themselves.  So they didn’t call anybody about this.  They just let him die.”

Fitch and other officials are working on a three-pronged approach to battle heroin they announced in early April.  Along with tougher enforcement, they’re trying to get more information out to heroin users about treatment options, trying to get more cooperation from those users to bust dealers, and trying to reach out to the community with education.

Chief Fitch says he’s been trying to work with to school districts in recent weeks, to convince them that even if they don’t think they have a problem on their campus, they can help with prevention.  “One of the things we’ve tried to do is contact some of the schools to host some of these town hall meetings that we want to have, and we continue to have a difficult time to find schools willing to do that,” says Fitch.

Fitch says while detectives haven’t made any purchases on school grounds, they’ve been told by suspects that heroin is getting onto high school campuses.  That’s why he’s encouraging schools to be part of the solution.  “If you think you truly don’t have a problem in your high school, there’s still nothing wrong with opening your doors and having an education session.”

He does applaud one area district — Webster Groves — which he says has already been holding educational seminars about the dangers of heroin.

The town hall meetings are planned for June, July and August.  KMOX will provide you with more details as they become available.

As KMOX continues to follow the heroin epidemic, tune to NewsRadio 1120 KMOX Thursday morning, to hear how heroin deals are going mobile.

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