Attorney general talks heroin crisis with police chiefs

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) — The state’s top prosecutor met Monday with police department chiefs from across Pennsylvania.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke at the Pennsylvania Police Chief Association Conference. He told officers his top priority is fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic.

“Last year, it took the lives of over 4,600 of our fellow residents here in the commonwealth. That represents 13 Pennsylvanians a day that are dying as a result of heroin and opioids,” Shapiro said.

He laid out his case for fighting the issue, saying it cannot be done alone.

“The more we collaborate, the better we can take down the major drug networks that are plaguing Pennsylvania as well as those networks on the street corners and in the local community that are having a negative impact on the quality of life,” Shapiro said.

Police departments in our area attended the speech. They said they understand their role in fighting the issue.

“It’s not just about dealing with the drug dealers on our local streets but where the pipelines are and we can’t do that locally. We need the collaborative effort with the AG’s office taking the lead on it,” Upper Allen Township police Chief James Adams said.

Police chiefs also had the opportunity to look at new gear and technology. They will discuss training and protocol, including how to handle overdose cases.

“It’s not about just arresting the bad guys, it’s saving the lives, giving people a second chance to hopefully turn their life around and get off the opioid addiction,” Adams said.

However, not all chiefs agreed.

“In my opinion, we’re not enforcing with these people that are taking the drugs. I’d like to bring them back, I want to keep them alive, but they should go to jail. They should be punished for what they’re doing,” said John English, chief of the Edgeworth Police Department in suburban Pittsburgh.

The attorney general and police chiefs also discussed issues like scams against seniors and child safety. The conference runs through Wednesday.

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