Mount Joy Mayor Tim Bradley has decided to spearhead a coalition to fight back against the abuse of heroin in the county.
On Jan. 21, Bradley and several other mayors from Lancaster County introduced the Lancaster County Anti-Heroin Task Force. The task force is a collaboration among mayors, community members, and county organizations that is committed to reducing the abuse of opioids and thereby reducing deaths from the harmful and addictive drugs.
Approximately one year ago, Bradley brought the issue to the Lancaster County Mayors' Association after he was approached by members of the Mount Joy community and local law enforcement. "There was a lot of concern regarding the increased contact with heroin, as well as (the increase in) heroin-related crimes," Bradley said. "It became evident that the problem was not unique to my community," Bradley shared, adding that he discovered that the issue was overwhelming the resources of communities throughout the county and the state of Pennsylvania. "It was clear that more collaboration was needed," Bradley said.
With the support of the Mayors' Association, more than 30 representatives from various areas of the community assembled to brainstorm solutions.
The Lancaster County Anti-Heroin Task Force was created to help tackle the complex issue. Bradley and several fellow mayors, along with representatives from county government, Lancaster General Health (LGH), and Compass Mark, unveiled the first three task force initiatives on Jan. 21.
"Today is the culmination of work that has taken place over a year, marked by significant contributions from individuals and organizations that represent a cross-section of Lancaster County communities," Bradley said.
District Attorney Craig Stedman shared several county statistics regarding the increase in heroin use, including the fact that related deaths tripled from 2010 to 2014. "That is an incredible increase in such a short amount of time," Stedman commented.
According to Bradley, the task force will focus its efforts on the three main initiatives, which include raising awareness of the detrimental impact and health concerns of heroin, facilitating educational opportunities in the community, and enhancing coordination among community groups and service providers throughout the county.
Organizations involved in the task force include the Lancaster County Mayors' Association, LGH/Penn Medicine, Compass Mark, the Lancaster County Drug and Alcohol Commission, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office, the Lancaster County Court System, Lancaster-Lebanon superintendents, the Lancaster County Student Assistance Program Coordination Team, the Lancaster County Drug Task Force, the Lancaster County Coroner's Office, Lancaster County Chiefs of Police, ASAP Lititz, and the Lancaster County Recovery Alliance.
"It is clear that this is a systemic problem across the nation," Bradley said in closing. "We are taking a collective stand against heroin and prescription drug abuse through a commitment to collaboration."