Franklin County assembling grand jury to investigate heroin epidemic

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Franklin County District Attorney will soon start using a grand jury to investigate deadly overdoses and trafficking as a new tool to the fight the deadly heroin and opioid epidemic.

Heroine has become such a problem in Franklin County that every officer in Chambersburg carries around an opioid overdose kit, just waiting for the next call.

Officer Pat Hinds recently used one for the first time.

“I went in to the front door and found a female laying there on the couch,” Hinds said. “Agonal breathing, very pale and clammy skin.”

The woman’s boyfriend made the call. Hinds saved her life.

“The second incident was actually the very next day,” Hinds said. “The boyfriend who had called us the night before actually had overdosed the next night and the girlfriend was calling us.”

“It makes you realize how much of a grip this has on our community,” he said.

The Franklin County Coroner said drug-related deaths are now more than double any other cause of death, except for natural. The numbers have been exponentially increasing over the past ten years — now at 40 cases for 2016.

It’s why the DA is assembling an investigative grand jury dedicated to finding heroin dealers. Twenty-three jurors will meet twice a month to gather evidence and interview people involved.

The Chief of Police in Chambersburg, Ron Camacho, says it will be a very helpful tool.

“It is secret, so they can talk to us and give us information to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to find out who did this and make an arrest in the future,” Camacho said.

It is a top down operation to save dozens beneath.

“Sometimes they’re happy with us and sometimes they’re not,” Hinds said about his position as a police officer. “But at the end of the day, you can go home knowing you saved somebody’s life and that’s all that matters.”

The grand jury will convene January 2017 and then for the next 18 months.

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